Republicans use $4 million to yank Washington’s Senate seat back into their crosshairs

A week ago, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray looked like she might be running away from Republican challenger Dino Rossi in the Washington Senate race. But that was before the GOP launched a nearly $4 million fusillade of TV advertising.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has begun running $3 million in ads that will last until the Nov. 2 election.

And Crossroads GPS, an outside group that is part of a rising infrastructure of new conservative political groups built by Republican operatives such as Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, announced Tuesday they will pump an additional $780,000 into the Evergreen State.

It’s a sign that for all their talk of a Senate takeover being a two-cycle project, Republicans think they have a chance at doing it this fall. Washington could potentially be the 10th pickup for the GOP that would push them over the top in their quest to regain a majority.

Murray’s lead over Rossi, a two-time candidate for governor in the state with broad name recognition, moved up to roughly 6 points during the latter half of September, after Rossi had pulled even in August. Murray has been running tough TV ads since Labor Day, which Republican and Democratic operatives both said were effective.

But now polls have begun to trend back in Rossi’s favor, shrinking Murray’s aggregate lead in the Real Clear Politics polling average to 3.3 points.

Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for Crossroads GPS, said that the independent group is spending the second-biggest portion of a $4.2 million several-state buy Tuesday into Washington “for two reasons: Rossi’s strength generally as a challenger, and because Seattle’s media market, while expensive in absolute terms, is cheap relative to New York, Los Angeles, or Philadelphia.”

Collegio made clear that Republicans are pushing hard to try to get to 10, even though leaders such as Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the NRSC chairman, have avoided talking about such an outcome this year.

“The math is clear – putting an end to Obama’s rubber-stamp Senate requires at least one win in either Washington, California, Connecticut or Delaware,” Collegio said.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee put $2 million toward the Washington race a month ago when the NRSC’s ad purchase was first reported. But nationally, the NRSC has had more flexibility on where to spend its money – both the NRSC and DSCC had about $24 million at the end of August – because independent groups like Crossroads GPS have been pouring money into races.

Republican Linda McMahon’s self-funded campaign in Connecticut – where the former WWE CEO has said she will spend $50 million of her own money – has also helped the NRSC avoid spending money in an expensive market that remains a long shot, though McMahon has cut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s lead in half since the summer. She still trails by about eight points, however.

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  • libertyatstake

    Good, let no Dem seat be safe. Are you listening Barney “Banking Queen” Frank?

    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  • oeno

    The majority of the state lives in the Western half and tends to vote Democratic. They need to hope for a depressed voter turnout in the western half and good weather in the eastern half.

    • krjohnson

      I don’t think weather will have anything to do with the outcome. King county is the only one that has the option to vote at an actual polling place anymore, the rest of us have to vote by mail.

      It really scares me actually, because it has been shown that absentee ballots are the easiest ones to fake and alter. They sit in a room for days, with limited access… perfect for tampering and adulteration with fakes…

      • oeno

        I believe Oregon is totally by mail ballot and they’ve never had a problem. Only time I visit the eastern half of the state is to visit Walla Walla and environs for wine tours and I have to fly into Seattle anyway. Does Washington state limit where you can balloting? My old one was actually in the kitchen of a church and was the sweetest old ladies that were church members. I do believe that is a state law decision about where poll places can or cannot be placed.

        • krjohnson

          “Does Washington state limit where you can balloting?”

          We all get ballots in the mail and send them back in the mail. Or we can drop them off at the courthouse. The only place where an actual polling place exists anymore in Washington state is King County (ie Seattle). There is no way to vote at a polling place in Washington state unless you are in King County.

  • American Policy Examiner

    I didn’t realize how stupid Rossi’s opponent Patty Marray was until it was brought to my attention by Ann Coulter. Washington can do better. It will be a close race, but hopefully Dino Rossi has learned his lesson and has a plan to prevent this election being stolen from him as the governorship had been.

  • recovered dem

    I hope Rossi replaces that Obama rubber stamp in tennis shoes!

  • sunnyr

    The Governorship of WA was stolen from him by Christine Gregoire 6 years ago. He lost by less than 300 votes to a woman who had more votes in her district than residents!! Those pesky dead people keep rising up every couple years to vote for DemocRATS! Anyway, I hope he wins this one. He will make a great Senator.

  • diamndgirl

    Go Rossi Go!

    Get some fire in that belly when you are on the shows as well…you need to fight fire with fire.

  • krjohnson

    I think that on top of Rossi potentially being the 10th pickup, the Republican leadership is eager to get him in the Senate to reinforce their leadership ranks. Bennett and Murkowski were both in McConnell’s kitchen cabinet, they were willing to take a few votes for the team and they were firstly *legislators* not ideologues.

    Rossi is exactly that as well. Rossi appears to care about only one thing: balanced budgets. He is a seasoned legislator and has had a huge amount of experience in working with Democrats to balance budgets (without tax increases). I think that, from McConnell’s perspective, among the circus we are likely to see coming to DC, including several senators to the right of Coburn and DeMint, Rossi would be someone he could rely on to calm the waters a little bit and provide practical rather than ideological solutions.

  • JillianO

    A GIANT waste of $. It’s WHO counts the votes in WA state that determines who is elected; not, how voters cast their votes. Rossi and the Republicans apparently never learned their lesson. Maybe they will this time when those bags of votes are “found” post-election counting. And SURPRISE! All of them will be for Patty.

    • tromso

      You couldn’t be more correct, and the Democrats couldn’t be any more blatant. Of course, we’re talking Gregoire v Rossi version 1.0, when Rossi won both the election and subsequent recount. When I learned that the Democrats had paid for the second recount, I knew Gregoire had won, since you don’t put up a quarter million dollars for nothing. The fix was in, and by Washington State law, there would be no more recounts. The Democrats found their bags of Gregoire votes, and interestingly, the same people who engineered this crime showed up in Minnesota a few years later to illegally send Al Franken to the US Senate. Their MO is to cause enough mass confusion that most people just scratch their heads and think, “WTF just happened?”

      • diamndgirl

        Totally agree with you and Jillian…I’ve followed the dems cheating lying ways all the way to the Wa. Supreme Court as well, the votes, the dead, the recount, the blatant lies etc…I worry very much too as you both do…even though I’m in Big Sky Country, Spokane is our local tv networks, Spokane is the nearest big city, same as when we lived in Idaho…plus family there as well.

        I hope to gosh Rossi can get at least 3-5% pts ahead the night of the elections so they can’t cheat their way out of this one…what they’ve (dems) done with the military ballots is/was horrendous as well.

        Keeping my fingers crossed.

    • killtruck

      “Rossi and the Republicans apparently never learned their lesson”

      So we’re supposed to stoop to her level or just not bother? I don’t think so.