Rossi keeps making his case in Kitsap County

Dino Rossi took the majority of votes in Kitsap County in 2004 — and hopes to do even better in his run for governor’s office in 2008. - Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Photo
Dino Rossi took the majority of votes in Kitsap County in 2004 — and hopes to do even better in his run for governor’s office in 2008.
— image credit: Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Photo

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi is developing a strong Kitsap County presence, having made four campaign stops here in the past two months and planning to maintain a high local visibility for the remainder of the election season.

“Everyone has been so gracious when we show up here,” Rossi said Thursday, prior to an appearance in front of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce. “We’re getting a lot of support from Kitsap County. It’s clear they want change.”

Rossi lost the closest — and arguably most controversial — gubernatorial contest in modern history, losing to Christine Gregoire by 129 votes in 2004 on the third recount.

He now seeks a rematch, hoping to win back those votes and more.

The Kitsap margin was more decisive than statewide totals, as Rossi beat Gregoire here by a 1,539 vote margin.

Rossi supporters expect him to do as well — or even better — during this year’s rematch.

“A lot of voters here favor a more conservative approach,” said Kitsap County Republican Chairman Jack Hamilton. “I expect Dino will win the county handily.”

Hamilton called Rossi “an intelligent, proven, capable leader who has always acted in the best interests of the people, rather than worrying about whether he was going to be re-elected.”

“He is an ordinary man who can walk in our shoes,” said South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, now a candidate herself for the state Legislature. “He comes across as honest and sincere, and he cares about people.”

Angel predicted Rossi would win Kitsap by an even wider margin than four years ago “because a lot of people now know how important one vote can be.”

This time Rossi will be running against an incumbent, placing him in an automatically disadvantageous position.

He has turned this into a positive trait, saying he intends to challenge Gregoire’s record directly.

Rossi’s philosophy of government echoes a practice embraced by Kitsap County leaders over the past few years, that voters should be treated as if they were valued customers.

“Customers are treated differently,” he said. “And it is important for government to treat citizens as customers and not as nuisances.

“We are going to finish what we started,” Rossi said. “We are not going to make the same mistake again. This has turned into a citizen’s movement. This year we now have 24,000 contributors; last time we had a total of 30,000. Since the announcement that I was going to run, we’ve had a tremendous reaction. It’s like drinking out of a fire-hose.”

At the end of his address, the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce stressed that it is a non-partisan group, and announced that Gregoire has been invited to participate in a similar event.

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