By J. Taylor Rushing - 04/18/10 06:10 PM EDT
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) is getting antsy over his recruit for a Washington Senate race.
Dino Rossi, a former Washington state senator and two-time gubernatorial candidate, is Cornyn’s favored challenger to Sen. Patty Murray (D).
The problem is that Rossi hasn’t announced he’s running, and Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is running out of time to find a suitable replacement if Rossi bows out.
Washington state law allows until 5 p.m. on June 11 for U.S. Senate candidates to file their campaign paperwork, but Cornyn said if Rossi takes all of that time to decide it would make it nearly impossible to recruit another candidate on short notice.
“I think he’s interested. He’s a good, strong fiscal conservative, and the recent polling that’s been done has him beating her. And we need some reinforcements,” Cornyn said.
“I’ve been urging him to make a decision sooner rather than
later because there’s a practical problem with not having enough time to do
what you need to do before the election.”
Recent polls show Murray leading Rossi in a potential match-up.
A March 22-23 DailyKos poll of 600 likely voters put Murray
up by 11 points, but an April 6 Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters put her up by
only two points. Murray leads four other potential GOP opponents by larger
Rossi told The Hill he is doing his “due diligence” and strongly considering the race. He has worked at a commercial real estate firm since his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2008.
“We have four children between nine and 19, so it’s not a casual decision,” he said. “I do have to say that I’ve been to Washington D.C. six times, and I’m not eager to head back into that snake pit. But I also see the flip-side of that, about what kind of a country we’re leaving to our kids.”
Cornyn said Rossi does have a slightly longer time to decide than most candidates because of his residual name identification. A state senator from 1997 to 2003, Rossi has run for governor and lost twice — by only 133 votes in 2004 and by a larger margin of 53-47 percent to incumbent Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) in 2008.
“He does have an inherent advantage in that he’s got high name ID from his earlier races, so he’s got the luxury of waiting a little longer than other candidates would,” Cornyn said.
Murray said she’s ready for a challenge.
“I’m not worried, I’m doing what I always do, going to work hard for the people of my state,” she said.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who heads the Senate Democrats' campaign arm, thinks Rossi is a “flawed candidate” and took direct aim at his indecisiveness.
“He’d better really ask someone seriously who’s going to get him all of the money [for the race] because he says he doesn’t have to file until June. I don’t know how you run for the Senate and not file until June."
Murray had nearly $5.2 million in her campaign account at the start of the year, according to her most recent campaign report filed with the Federal Elections Commission. A more recent report is expected this week.