Opinion

Cantwell can be beaten — but by whom?

Cantwell can be beaten — but by whom?

Sometime this month, representatives of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee will be in the state to make one last try at talking Dino Rossi into running for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Maria Cantwell.

If he continues to say no, as he has already, they’ll turn to the two candidates who have offered to do it, and decide which one to support. That would be former 1st Congressional District Rep. Rick White and Safeco chair-CEO Mike McGavick.

The two have agreed with party bosses that, sans Rossi, it will be one or the other. There’ll be no primary dustup unless somebody else surfaces who won’t go along with the plan.

White made then-Rep. Cantwell a one-termer in 1994 and served until knocked off by Democrat Jay Inslee in 1998 after a messy divorce.

McGavick was a staffer to U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton.

Rossi is naturally the No. 1 choice because more people think he won the governor’s race in the state not only once but twice, and then had it stolen out from under him.

A recent poll shows Rossi beating Gregoire 52 to 40 percent. Right now he’s hot, but how hot he’d be if he waited to take Gregoire on again in 2008 is unknowable. His reluctance to run for the Senate is based on not wanting to leave his young family or move them to the capital.

I remember when Dan Evans didn’t want to leave here for the other Washington when “Scoop” Jackson died and he was appointed. Gorton talked him into running to keep it by pointing out that even serving just the five years left in Jackson’s term would vest him in the Senate’s posh pension plan.

Real estate salesman Rossi may be a millionaire, but real estate salesmen don’t have pension plans or unlimited health care for them and their families as do members of Congress.

McGavick’s flaw as a candidate is that he’s practically unknown. The Safeco chair-CEO isn’t exactly the appropriate person to send up against Cantwell, whose mother got her elected to the U.S. Senate by chirping, “Maria was the first in our family to go to college.”

Rossi, by the way, was the first in his family to go to college.

As for White, I have changed my mind about his acceptability. I wrote in April that I wouldn’t bet on his former constituents in the 1st District forgetting about the messy divorce he went through in 1998, wherein all the sympathy was with his wife, although neither ever revealed what the problem was.

But when I wrote that, I was unaware of some things that had occurred.

Namely that the ex-Mrs. White left Bainbridge Island to work and live in Washington, D.C., in February 2003, and the four kids stayed here with their father. Further, that they not only approve but encourage him to get back into politics “and show people what you can do.”

That, it seems to me, does a lot to diminish his image as the villain in the case. Not that it makes her the villain, but he has continued to live up to his responsibilities as a father, what with daughters now 21, 18 and 16 and a son, 13.

He’s 51 now and stepping out of his job as as CEO to a technology trade association to contemplate this return to politics.

If he’s the candidate and wins, he will take the children with him to D.C. this time. They live now at Miller Bay in North Kitsap. He remarried a couple of years after the divorce. His ex has not.

“I’m getting a lot of encouragement,” he told me, “including from about a dozen of my colleagues from the House who are in the Senate now.”

White loves Washington, D.C. “I went to law school at Georgetown,” he said. “I viewed D.C. as a place to go to get things done. People there are playing high stakes. They’ll do anything to win. It’s an important place to be.”

In the poll where Rossi beat Cantwell 52-40, Cantwell beats Jennifer Dunn, George Nethercutt and White, 49-38 each, and McGavick, 49-36.

She beats state GOP head Chris Vance, 55-35.

Property rights will be THE issue in 2006 and Cantwell, the mother of the Growth Management Act, has sided with government against the individual.

I think she’s beatable.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, Wa., 98340.

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