May, 4th 2010

Has Didier really reversed himself on stepping out, should Rossi run? Hope not...

– Liz Mair

Readers will know I was back in Seattle just over a week ago and met with various local Republican leaders, consultants, activists, etc., while there.

One of the things I kept hearing in the course of some of those meetings, incidentally, was that if Rossi got in, yes, Clint Didier would almost certainly step out, though he might not say so, per se. 

Now, it appears that that's not the situation-- or, if you want to read this in the most cynical possible light, at least that Didier doesn't want his supporters to think he will step out, thus halting donations, until he knows for sure whether Rossi is running or not (and presumably, in this scenario, Didier thinks he's not).  From Didier's statement:

"I don't know Dino Rossi personally. But I do know he is part of the Republican establishment – all you have to do is look at those he surrounds himself with. I don't believe he's the conservative people think he is. If people want more of the same, the McCain or Bush type of governing, then they can support Dino. If they want the change they missed the last time, then they can support me," Didier said.

"Finally, I believe I have most of the Tea Party and Campaign for Liberty support. No candidate will win this year without them. And the huge majority of these activists agrees with me and will not support Dino Rossi for the reasons just mentioned. And when they don't, he can't win. And this time around, they're not buying the 'lesser of two evils' argument. ... Rest assured, if Dino comes in this Senate race, it will not be the kind of primary he's used to. He will be facing some real conservatives with tough questions. People are broke, scared, tired and looking for something new in politics. I'm running to give it to them."

To parrot Didier himself, I don't know Clint Didier personally (I freely concede I've never spoken to him before).  However, from everything I hear, he's a pretty straight-up guy, considered by many Republicans in the state to be the most forthright and honest in sharing and explaining his views and who he is and why he's running.  So I'm not personally convinced this is all BSing and posturing (or even mainly or significantly so).

However, I do think it is bad strategy, if the objective is as stated (defeat Rossi, run against Murray).  Washington, for those who have forgotten, does not have a Republican primary in which Didier could, with sufficient grassroots, base, activist support sneak by Rossi.  Washington has a top two primary, and if Rossi jumps in the race, I struggle to see how Didier actually winds up on the ballot instead of him.  It's pretty much mathematically impossible, on my read, anyway.

What's not impossible is, if Didier really feels this way about Dino, that he could personally, inadvertently deliver a fourth term to Sen. Murray just to make a point about ideological purity and "outsider-y-ness" beyond the primary.  Or, he could use this position he's taken to try to force Rossi to the right-- that's probably a better bet.  Or, as I threw out there upfront, he could be saying this in some part because he doesn't think Rossi will run and he does not want to see a situation where his volunteers down tools, or donors stop giving, because they expect a well-funded Rossi, with all the support he will bring to bear on day one by virtue of previous organizing efforts, to step into the race, thus making time and money spent now on another candidate effectively wasted (for all but a small percentage of die-hards).

Depending on your read of Didier's actions, this either is a very big deal or a not-so-big deal.

But as someone who sees getting rid of Murray as mission number one with regard to Washington, my hope is that if Rossi gets in, Didier will back down.  I have no interest in what should be a Republican win becoming a Republican loss because of party infighting. [intro]



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