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Dino Rossi, Patty Murray ad wars heating up

By Felicia Sonmez

The Washington Senate battle is beginning in earnest as Sen. Patty Murray (D) and former state Sen. Dino Rossi (R) are launching two new TV spots ahead of the Aug. 17 primary.

Murray's latest ad, her third, marks her first negative spot in the race. It hammers Rossi for his opposition to financial regulatory reform.

"Dino Rossi first refused to take a position on Wall Street reform. Then he had a fundraiser on Wall Street, and another in Washington with corporate lobbyists," the narrator of the ad says. "Next thing you know, Dino sides with his big money friends and calls for the repeal of financial reforms. Dino Rossi: the best friend Wall Street and big banks can buy." Murray's camp did not provide a figure for how much it is spending on the ad, which will run statewide.

The ad references a late July interview on ABC/Washington Post's "Top Line" program in which Rossi said that he would back repealing the financial regulatory reform law.

But perhaps most interesting about the ad is that it seeks to tie Rossi not only to Wall Street, but also to George W. Bush. The 30-second spot opens with an image of Bush while the narrator intones: "Bailouts. Bonuses. Lost savings. Foreclosed homes." The ad is evidence that Democratic candidates continue to link their Republican rivals to the unpopular president even as national Democrats are rolling out a strategy of tying Republican candidates to the "tea party."

National Republicans responded by charging that Murray has also taken money from Wall Street donors and that the ad is an attempt to change the topic away from her record of "spending, taxing, and growing the size of government."

"Patty Murray has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wall Street banks and special interest lobbyists, yet her attack ad conveniently fails to mention that this 'reform' bill was supported by the big banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and that it was opposed by small business owners and job creators," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Brian Walsh.

Rossi's ad, his first of the race, is a positive spot that highlights his modest upbringing; he grew up one of seven in a family that struggled to make ends meet.

"Growing up, I was the youngest of seven raised on a schoolteacher's salary, and I worked my way through college waxing floors at the Space Needle," Rossi says in the straight-to-camera spot. "That's why I can't stand what's going on in the U.S. Senate. They're wasting money on programs that aren't creating jobs or helping the economy, and running up debt that's threatening our future."

The ad, like the Web video that Rossi used to officially kick off his bid in June, makes no mention of Murray - or of Rossi's two previous statewide runs (he made unsuccessful bids against Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) in 2004 and 2008).

Murray spokesperson Julie Edwards shot back that Rossi "should be running an ad explaining why he wants to repeal Wall Street reform for his corporate lobbyist friends. Voters in Washington state won't forget his hard right turn away from protecting consumers."

Both Rossi and Murray are poised to win spots on the ballot following this month's primary, in which the top two vote-getters regardless of party will advance to the general election. Murray has proved a deft campaigner in her three previous bids and enjoys the advantage of a Democratic-leaning electorate that gave President Obama 58 percent in 2008. (Worth noting: Obama will make a visit to the state on Murray's behalf on primary day.) But there are signs of danger for the three-term incumbent: a Survey USA poll released last week showed her job approval rating dipping to 41 percent and her disapproval rising to 54 percent.

Meanwhile, two Republican candidates - former Washington Redskins tight end Clint Didier and businessman Paul Akers - announced late last week that they will be taking the unorthodox step of participating jointly in radio ads and online forums but continuing to compete for a spot on the ballot.

By Felicia Sonmez  |  August 3, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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