New Republicans surface at state convention

The Right Side

The Dow Jones just had its worst month in 70 years. Longtime allies now vote against us in the United Nations. Over 60 percent of voters oppose ObamaCare and Congress barely registers a modicum of respect. Oil continues polluting the Gulf Coast while the White House tries to get control of media coverage rather than the spill.
Less than a year and a half into what is feeling like Jimmy Carter's second term, some 1,200 Republicans, including 22 delegates from the 36th District, gathered in Vancouver for the Washington State Republican Convention. Nearly half of the delegates were at their first convention and some were not born at the time of Carter's disastrous first term.
Apprehension about the country's direction motivated many attached to Congressman Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty and the more independent TeaParty to get involved. With Liberty's libertarian streak and the TeaParty's fiscal conservancy, new forces were at work on Republican candidates.
U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier is favored by the young enthusiasts who are energized in hopes of changing the nation's decline. Only "Rob McKenna Represents Me" stickers were more numerous than Didier's signs. Didier's hospitality suite, or tailgate party as the former Washington Redskins player dubbed it, was almost as crowded as that hosted by the State Attorney General.
Didier touts his "Game Plan for Washington" with emphasis on free market principals and restraint on government powers. He calls Dino Rossi the "establishment" candidate. Unanswered is the question of whether or not the Pasco area farmer can garner enough votes in the Puget Sound region to carry the state.
Didier is months into his campaign but, as of the last reports, raised just over $300,000. His fortunes may be boosted when Sarah Palin helps with a fund-raiser but he is a long way from Patty Murray's $6 million campaign chest.
Dino Rossi is assumed to be the Republican's choice to challenge Patty Murray for the U.S. Senate seat. That may be the case, but events at the State Republican Convention, which wrapped up this past Saturday, show he does not have an open road to the August Primary.
Rossi entered the convention hall to a standing ovation then delivered a familiar stump speech, updated for the Senate race. He supports free market solutions to health care, opposes earmarks, and has hoisted the flag of fiscal sustainability. He was warmly received but did not get the volume of response generated by Didier's promise to go to Washington and "give them hell."
Unlike his Republican opponents, Rossi has the contacts to quickly organize all the way down to the District level. That was done even before phones were hooked up in his campaign headquarters. Reportedly he raised $600,000 within a week of announcing and has promises of significant support from the U.S. Senate Republican caucus. He begins this run with new faces on his campaign team and that can only help. His campaign manager, Pat Shortbridge, comes from Mario Rubio's Florida Senate campaign. There he engineered a come-from-nowhere primary victory over Governor Crist and had the support of TeaParty activists. Lew Moore, Ron Paul's 2008 manager and a longtime Washington State activist, also signed on. Their connections to the TeaParty and Campaign for Liberty followers may help heal wounds after the primary. Familiar faces are back too, including Afton Swift and Tom Goff, veterans of Rossi's last two state-wide campaigns.
A November victory for Didier or Rossi has consequences beyond fiscal policy. Either could be the 51st vote and the majority needed to retire Harry Reid from his leadership position in the Senate.[[In-content Ad]]