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Rossi campaign visits SK

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Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi brought his message to Port Orchard early Tuesday morning, presenting his plan for business support and tax strategy to a crowd of eager Rotarians and local politicians.

“This election is not about (Gov.) Christine Gregoire,” Rossi said. “It’s not about me. It’s not about the ’04 election. What it’s about is changing the culture and direction of state government for generations.”

Rossi is challenging the incumbent Gregoire, to whom he lost the 2004 election by a razor-thin, contested margin.

As with every other modern political discussion, budget was at the forefront. Rossi criticized Gregore for doubling the state deficit and raising taxes after promising she would not.

He also positioned himself as the only person who can fix the problem, since he had spearheaded the balancing of the 2003 state budget.

“There is a tangible choice in this election,” Rossi said. “In most cases you have one candidate who has done something and the other who hasn’t and they are both just yapping. But we have an advantage in this race. Do you really think that I want to go down to Olympia and fix this budget mess again? It is not an easy thing to do.”

I’m the only candidate,” he said, “who can look you in the eye and say about this budget crisis, ‘If I hadn’t done this before I’d be nervous.’ But I’ve done this before and I can do it again.”

Rossi said that he had received recognition for his budget efforts from several diverse interests, and was credited with benefiting both businesses and social programs.

Rossi spoke for about 30 minutes, and did not take questions. He moved quickly through a variety of topics, the economy, the 2004 election, education and transportation, in an unstructured, extemporaneous manner.

While criticism of Gregoire became a recurring theme, it was offered in a reasoned, specific manner rather than the sharp, accusatory style that both sides have adopted in their advertising and debates.

Rossi used irony and humor to make his case, then turned it into a point. He talked about his transportation plan, which he said Gregoire has criticized.

However, the plan was assembled from components that Gregoire had once approved.

Rossi promised to fix several roads that are severely out of repair. His other specific transportation plans are to name a director for the Washington State Ferries, and to allocate 40 percent of the sales tax from automobile sales to road upkeep.

“We can move this 40 percent out of the general fund and use it for road projects,” he said. “We won’t need to raise your taxes in order to do this.”

He then stated that if road projects are subsidized through higher taxes, “the economy will fail.”

Rossi said he will take a bipartisan approach to governing, and will “seek out a philosophical majority rather than a partisan majority centered around fiscally conservative ideas.”

If elected, Rossi promised to involve a different set of people in government.

“I get to do what no Republican governor has done in 28 years,” he said. “If you’ve dealt with Olympia, you know it has been the same people shuffling back and forth in these agencies for a generation. They’ve been smoking each other’s exhaust for a very long time. I get to appoint well over 1,000 people, from Blueberry Commission on up.

“Boards you’ve heard of, some you haven’t a few that I haven’t even heard of,” Rossi continued. “The next governor will appoint a state Supreme Court justice, because Gerry Alexander will reach the mandatory retirement age. We can change the tone and tenor of state government.”

Rossi lost the 2004 election by 127 votes, and he still isn’t quite over it.

This year, however, a lot of the voter irregularities he and his supporters blame for this defeat have been corrected, and “465 unclaimed ballots are no longer floating around. That is a very good thing,” Rossi said.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t count,” he reminded the crowd. “The system is getting cleaned up. Is it perfect? No system is perfect. Is it better than it was? You bet it is better than it was or I wouldn’t do this again. And your vote counts more in 2008 than it did in 2004. I’m the poster boy for ‘every vote counts,’ aren’t I?”

Gregoire has reportedly scheduled one or more Kitsap County campaign appearances on Oct.11. For more information go to www.chrisgregoire.com.

Rossi is planning a public rally to take place in Silverdale during the week of Oct. 20 .

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