Benton says he’s in, Rossi or no

State Sen. Don Benton says that even if fellow Republican Dino Rossi jumps into Washington’s U.S. Senate race against Democrat Patty Murray this week, as the political blogosphere is predicting, he is in it for the duration.

Asked directly on Monday whether he would drop out if Rossi enters the race, Benton, R-Vancouver, told the blog Red County, “I have every intention of being the next United States Senator from the state of Washington. It’s way too late for Dino to get in. Is he a frontrunner? Yes. Is he viable? Yes. Is it too late? Yes.”

Benton has publicly asked two-time gubernatorial candidate Rossi to announce his political plans, saying Rossi’s indecision is hurting fund-raising by other Republicans in the race (eight as of Monday).

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is stepping up its pressure on Rossi, promising to make issues of his business dealings and campaign contributions in an effort to discourage him from jumping into the race. GOP insiders predict Rossi would instantly become the front-runner. A recent poll shows Benton the most competitive with Murray among announced candidates for the seat.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, meanwhile, is attacking Murray for what it calls “a dirty smear campaign,” as well as for accepting $23,000 in contributions from Goldman Sachs while accusing Wall Street bankers of being “the heart of our economic crisis.”

Murray’s Senate office has unveiled a retooled website with a direct link to a “Holding Wall Street Accountable” page. On it, Murray lists the reforms she favors to protect consumers and guarantee that taxpayers never again have to bail out Wall Street.

Kathie Durbin

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