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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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June 25, 2008 3:01 PM

Italian group says Dems Rossi attack is "racist"

Posted by David Postman

The Italian Club of Seattle sent a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire today complaining that a video produced by the state Democratic Party about Republican Dino Rossi is "racist" and "beyond offensive."

The group says the video, which criticizes Rossi's connections to the Building Industry Association of Washington, "aims to link Italian-American gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi to Italian-American criminals through the use of the theme song to The Sopranos .

The letter, from club president Brian DiJulio, mentions that former Democratic Gov. Albert Rosellini is a member. DiJulio says the video is an attempt to "associate Dino Rossi with criminal activity through the use of negative ethnic stereotyping" and is "beyond offensive."

Whether the State Democratic Party thought it clever to link Rossi to Italian-American criminals through the use of a popular mobster TV show is irrelevant; it is distasteful, and it is racist. Governor Gregoire, we believe we have your sympathy when we assert that using someone's ethnic heritage as a negative should not be condoned in this campaign.

DiJulio said in the letter he wants the video pulled from the Democrats' Web site and from YouTube and that Gregoire should ask that Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz resign.

MORE: Waiting for a response from Gregoire and the Democratic Party. Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser sent out a statement. It said, in part:

“It is outrageous that the Democrats would stoop to this level on Gregoire’s behalf. What’s next? Dino is also part Tlingit, Alaskan Native. Are they going to attack him for that, too? This type of racial stereotyping is unacceptable. Gregoire and the Democrats know they can’t win on the issues so instead they turn to ethnic attacks. It’s shameful and an insult to the voters of our state.”

MORE: Democratic spokesman Kelly Steele responds:

Our video is in no way meant to allege or imply that Republican Dino Rossi or his extremist, right-wing developer allies have ties to the mafia or organized crime. It's a catchy song, which we thought jibed stylistically with our communication about Rossi's designated attack squad -- the BIAW -- who continue to pour millions into false and misleading attack ads against Gov. Gregoire. That being said, we’d like to apologize to Rossi’s friend Mr. DiJulio, his organization, and anyone else we may have inadvertently offended. The video will be replaced shortly with an identical message regarding Rossi and the BIAW’s sleazy attack campaign, using a different song.

As an aside, Rossi doesn’t seem to have a problem with referencing The Sopranos when he’s attacking Gov. Gregoire. Here’s what he said in a speech just yesterday on Mercer Island:

“[Rossi] criticized the state's reliance on the gas tax and ‘sin’ taxes from alcohol and cigarette sales. ‘Sin taxes are so easy to raise,’ he said. ‘But they are already so high they are one of the highest in the nation. If we raised them anymore, Tony Soprano would want to get some of that action.’”

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June 25, 2008 2:01 PM

Gregoire ad says she "cleaned up Dino Rossi's mess"

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s re-election ad campaign began today with this radio spot. It hits back at ads run by It’s Time for a Change, the BIAW-controlled PAC, that criticize Gregoire on her policy toward sex offenders.

The builders' ad

features a woman who says her 12-year-old granddaughter was sexually assaulted. "The governor has made it easier for these perpetrators to get away with what they want to do," the woman says in the ad. "I don't know how she can go to sleep at night."

Gregoire’s radio spot says:

It’s hard to believe Dino Rossi and his special interest friends who are attacking Governor Gregoire on crime.

It’s Dino Rossi who wrote the budget that cut millions from supervising felons. Rossi’s budget meant more than 14,000 felons would no longer be monitored. And it’s Rossi who opposed funding for a commitment center for sex predators. Check the record.

It’s Gov. Chris Gregoire who cleaned up Dino Rossi’s mess. Crime is now at a 14-year low and no one’s been tougher on sex offenders. She started Operation Crackdown to hunt them down, expanded the DNA registry, required sex offenders to wear electronic ankle monitors. And Governor Gregoire has increased sentences for sex crimes.

No wonder that every major police and law enforcement group has endorsed Chris Gregoire.
When it comes to crime, the choice is clear: It’s Governor Gregoire who is making our community safer and getting results.

More to come …

The governor's campaign says the claims about budget cuts come from the spending plan approved by the Legislature in 2003. Rossi was chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee that year. He was a major force in writing the budget. But, in what I've always found problematic about this line of attack from Gregoire, Rossi worked very closely with Democratic Gov. Gary Locke. And the final plan - no matter who wrote it - was approved by the Democratic-controlled House. The suggestion that "Rossi's budget" cut children from health insurance or, in this case, made it harder to monitor sex offenders means that some Democrats in the House today went along with the plan, too.

MORE: Gregoire campaign spokesman Aaron Toso says in reaction to the previous paragraph:

We feel that it is fair game. If Rossi wants to take credit for writing a budget, he has to own the entire budget and can’t pick and choose.
I don't disagree. It is certainly fair game to talk about the budget that Rossi has, in fact, made a centerpiece of his legislative career. But I do think that line of criticism is complicated by what I said. Of course, radio or TV ads will keep it simple. I wonder, though, if Rossi will respond with an ad listing some of the Democrats who agreed with him at the time. It'd be a long list.

UPDATE: Rossi's campaign responded to Gregoire's commercial with a press release sent this evening. And, as expected, the campaign points out that Rossi worked with Locke on the budget, adding, "The budget was passed by the Democratic-controlled House and signed by Democratic Governor Locke."

The campaign says that the prison budget was $46 million more than Locke proposed and tightened the law that allows early release.

On the question of the commitment center, Rossi says he opposed a proposed center in his district, in North Bend, because there was not prior notice to him and it was located near a children's camp.

The ad claims Gregoire has been endorsed by “every major police and law enforcement group.” But Rossi has been endorsed by local police groups, including the police guilds in King County, Renton and Kitsap County.

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June 25, 2008 10:36 AM

More than $1 million in union-funded PAC

Posted by David Postman

A new, largely union-funded, PAC has raised more than $1 million over the past six weeks. It’s still not clear exactly how Evergreen Progress will spend the money. But it’s looking more likely the political action committee will soon be weighing in on the governor’s race on behalf of incumbent Democrat Chris Gregoire.

Evergreen Progress has collected money from 14 labor unions and labor PACs, including the Service Employees International Union, which gave $495,000. The Democratic Governor’s Association gave $250,000.

The donors, most of whom have also donated heavily to Gregoire’s campaign, consistently referred questions to campaign manager Rick Desimone. Last week he wouldn’t say much about how the money would be spent. But today, echoing a bit of Gregoire’s campaign theme, he told me via e-mail:

In the future, Evergreen Progress will focus on the facts and do our best to ensure that every citizen has an opportunity to consider them as they make up their own minds about the direction they want the state to go in. Governor Gregoire and Dino Rossi both have records and both have positions on important issues that are informed by that record. For months we’ve heard and read a lot about what some people think about Governor Gregoire’s record - it’s been pretty hard hitting. I’m pretty sure the folks advancing this line of argument feel justified in their work. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander - the truth will get out - and I hope we’re part of it.

Continue reading this post ...


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Recent entries

Jun 25, 08 - 03:01 PM
Italian group says Dems Rossi attack is "racist"

Jun 25, 08 - 02:01 PM
Gregoire ad says she "cleaned up Dino Rossi's mess"

Jun 25, 08 - 10:36 AM
More than $1 million in union-funded PAC

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