Dino Rossi to represent Issaquah again in Olympia

July 10, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Former state senator is appointed to Cheryl Pflug’s old seat

Dino Rossi

Dino Rossi is headed back to Olympia to represent Issaquah and other Eastside communities in the state Senate.

Rossi — a GOP candidate for governor in 2004 and 2008, and for U.S. Senate in 2010 — succeeds former state Sen. Cheryl Pflug. The businessman and Sammamish resident last represented the 5th Legislative District in the state Senate from 1996 until resigning in 2003 to run for governor.

King County Council members unanimously recommended Rossi for the caretaker position July 9, a little more than a week after Pflug, a Republican, resigned to serve on a state board.

“I do know the people of this district,” Rossi said in testimony to council members.

Under state law, the King County Council is responsible for appointing a successor to the seat. The law called for GOP officials to submit three candidates to the council for consideration.

Pflug’s successor is not expected to serve for long. The appointee only serves until county elections officials certify the Nov. 6 election results in late November.

The seat is up for election in the meantime between Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet, a Democrat, and Snoqualmie businessman Brad Toft, a Republican.

The council also considered Bob Brunjes, 5th District GOP chairman and a Snoqualmie resident, and Kate Kaluzny, a former Issaquah City Council candidate, for the open state Senate seat.

Rossi is not expected to cast a vote in the Legislature unless the governor calls a special session.

The district is different since Rossi departed in December 2003, because redistricting last year removed Sammamish and reshaped boundaries elsewhere.

Rossi, in fact, is inside the 45th Legislative District boundaries for future elections. The reshaped boundaries go into effect for the Aug. 7 primary.

Redistricting divided Issaquah between the 5th and 41st legislative districts.

The appointment is a return to public service for Rossi after unsuccessful bids for higher office.

Rossi experienced bruising races for the Governor’s Mansion, a paper-thin margin in the 2004 contest — defined by recounts, court challenges and, separated by 133 ballots, the closest gubernatorial election in U.S. history — and a failed 2008 rematch against Gov. Chris Gregoire.

In 2010, amid a national Republican tide, Rossi fell to incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat.

Rossi’s old state Senate seat opened after Gregoire appointed Pflug to a six-year term on the Washington Growth Management Hearings Board in May.

The panel is responsible for mediating disputes about planning and development issues in municipalities throughout the state. Members cannot serve simultaneously on the board and in the Legislature.

The appointment is a homecoming of sorts for Rossi.

In Olympia, Rossi attracted attention and accolades as the state budget architect in 2003. The state faced a $2.3 billion shortfall, and Rossi reached out to Democrats in order to enact deep spending cuts.

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