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Sunday, October 17, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
The Times endorses
Last year, Rossi, a Sammamish Republican, was the man who made the no-new-taxes budget stick. Recall that time: State government was $2.6 billion in the hole. Our economy was in recession, and our unemployment rate was No. 1 in the nation. Raising taxes would have been the easiest thing to do. California did. Idaho did. Oregon did. In the two previous recessions, so did Washington.
Gov. Gary Locke proposed a no-new-taxes budget, but it had unacceptable cuts in spending on the poor, and insiders were skeptical that Locke was serious. Rossi made the Locke budget palatable. Rossi has a mind for numbers but also a mind to listen and craft a deal.
Attorney General Christine Gregoire has a different set of traits and skills. She is smart as a whip. She is an attorney, an advocate. She knows the bureaucracy better than Rossi does, but she is also of it and more sympathetic to it.
Coming from the private sector, Rossi is more likely to work harder at straightening out 20 years of administrative rules that now encumber our economic recovery. Locke, spurred by Boeing's corporate goodbye, did some of this, to his credit. He set up a Council on Competitiveness. He set up a budget review called Priorities of Government, which Gregoire and Rossi both say they will use.
Our bet is that Rossi will use it more effectively. Simply put, it is difficult to fire your friends, and for 20 years state government has been in the hands of Democrats.
Our case for Rossi has not mentioned education, health care or a dozen other things. All those things cost money, and the money is not there. The economy comes first. Nor is our argument about social issues mentioned, in which our sympathies are with Gregoire. Rossi has said his candidacy is not about social issues, and we take his word on that.
The central issue in this election is change in the administrative culture of Olympia, and for that reason our support goes to the Republican nominee, Dino Rossi.
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