Rossi likely to raise funds quickly despite late start

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by ALLEN SCHAUFFLER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 26, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 26 at 6:32 PM

SEATTLE - Dino Rossi's announcement Wednesday that he is entering the race to unseat Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray makes him the instant Republican frontrunner.

It also means he needs to make up some ground financially, although it's expected he will raise money than the all the Republicans who were already in the race.

Public records show Murray has a nearly $6 million campaign war chest, well ahead of her previous opponents in this election.

Still, Rossi won't exactly be starting at zero.

"The national Republican party has been recruiting Dino Rossi to run for months," said NBC Political Director Chuck Todd.

"I'm sure he's hit some of the major donors nationwide," said political science professor and former King County GOP Chair Reed Davis. He says plenty of money from the national GOP and other sources outside the state will flow to Rossi and bring him near that $6 million figure right away.

"I'm sure that he's gotten pledges and promises, maybe not for 6 (million), but for something very close to it," said Davis.

Rossi knows how to raise money in Washington state as well. He did it for two statewide campaigns for Governor. Also, Rossi jumping into the fray will almost certainly dry up money that could have gone to the other Republican candidates.

Murray has political connections all over Capitol Hill and around the country. She's the former chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, so she knows where the phone lists are and the money is buried.

Not long after Rossi's announcement, state Democrats launched the "Derail Dino" campaign online, where people can make a contribution.

Todd says Rossi already has name recognition, but adds that Rossi should not assume that his name and the anti-incumbent mood across the country will sweep him into the Senate.

"This is a good year for a Republican to try to win statewide in Washington state, but he may be going against the toughest possible Democrat a Republican could find in Patty Murray," said Todd.

All the other Republican candidates say they are still in the race, for now. They include state Sen. Don Benton; businessman Paul Akers; chiropractor Sean Salazar; Dr. Art Coday; and former NFL player Clint Didier.

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