Dana Perino confident about chances of former deputy against Sen. Cantwell

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Former White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel is considering a run against Washington State Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2012.

“I have spoken with leaders in this state and my former White House colleagues about the idea of running for the United States Senate,” Stanzel told The Daily Caller Tuesday.

Stanzel noted that he will not make a final decision until after his September wedding.

In 2010 Stanzel led a successful campaign against Washington State Initiative 1098. The initiative, defeated 65 percent to 35 percent, would have levied additional income taxes on residents who earn more than $200,000 a year.

The campaign brought Stanzel onto the Washington State political scene. “I’m flattered that individuals I worked with to defeat the disastrous state income tax proposal last year believe that I could provide a positive voice for Washington in the U.S. Senate,” Stanzel said.

If he commits to challenging Cantwell, Stanzel would face a well-funded incumbent who won re-election in 2006 by a 17-point margin. In the second quarter of this year alone, Cantwell raised $1.4 million. But the uphill battle doesn’t seem to discourage Stanzel.

“Voters of this state are hungry for principled leadership which addresses the serious fiscal crisis that politicians like Sen. Cantwell have caused,” Stanzel said. “Sen. Cantwell and her allies in our nation’s capital are busy burying our children and grandchildren in a blizzard of debt… it seems the only jobs program in Congress is the one where they try to preserve their own. We deserve better.”

Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told TheDC, “I’m in.”

Perino said that she has known Stanzel for 10 years and regards him highly — both personally and professionally.

“I think he could organize an excellent campaign, raise money, and give the incumbent a hell of a race,” Perino said.

“As a member of the White House Press Office team, he shined,” Perino added. “He is governed by a solid set of conservative principles, and he also understands how best to communicate ideas.”

Perino pointed to the tax initiative as one example of his electoral prowess. “He turned around the proposition to increase taxes on just a few in the state — the campaign wasn’t going that well until he kicked them into gear, and then the proposition failed big-time,” she said.

A spokesman for Cantwell’s office was not immediately available for comment. But Perino offered a word of caution to naysayers: “Sure, he may be a ‘dark horse’ candidate – but that’s what you want in an election year like this one. Beware Democrats at the DSCC before you scoff at the notion of a Stanzel candidacy.”

Steven Nelson