Dino Rossi

Dino John Rossi (born October 15, 1959) is an American businessman and politician who served as a Washington State Senator from 1997 to 2003, in 2012, and again from 2016 to 2017. A Republican, he is a former Chairman of the Washington State Special Olympics.

Dino Rossi
Dino Rossi (cropped).jpg
Member of the Washington State Senate
In office
December 5, 2016 – November 29, 2017
Preceded byAndy Hill
Succeeded byManka Dhingra
In office
July 10, 2012 – November 30, 2012
Preceded byCheryl Pflug
Succeeded byMark Mullet
In office
January 13, 1997 – December 4, 2003
Preceded byKathleen Drew
Succeeded byCheryl Pflug
Personal details
Dino John Rossi

(1959-10-15) October 15, 1959 (age 61)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Terry Rossi
EducationSeattle University (BA)

Originally from Seattle, Rossi graduated from Seattle University and later pursued a career in commercial real estate. He ran for Governor of Washington in 2004, losing to Democrat Christine Gregoire by 129 votes in the closest gubernatorial election in the history of the United States. Four years later, in 2008, he contested the office a second time, losing to Gregoire by more than six points. He was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in 2010, losing to incumbent Democrat Patty Murray.

Rossi returned to the Washington State Senate, being appointed in 2012 and again from 2016 to 2017. He was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives for the eighth congressional district in 2018. Rossi lost that race to Democrat Kim Schrier, his fourth consecutive defeat for public office since 2004.

Early life, education and early careerEdit

Rossi was the youngest of seven children brought up by his mother Eve, a beautician of Irish and Tlingit ancestry, and his father John Rossi, an Italian-American Seattle Public Schools teacher at Viewlands Elementary in North Seattle.[1] Rossi was raised in Mountlake Terrace and graduated from Woodway High School in Edmonds. He earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Seattle University in 1982.[2]

After college, Rossi began in the commercial real estate business,[3] working for Melvin G. Heide at Capretto & Clark. Rossi followed Heide to two more firms as Heide was being investigated for fraud and false statements; Heide later pleaded guilty.[4][5] Rossi later became a commercial real estate salesman, managing and owning real estate.[6] Rossi was formerly an owner of the Everett Aquasox minor league baseball team.[7] He is co-founder of the Bellevue, Washington-based Eastside Commercial Bank.[8]

Political careerEdit

Washington State SenateEdit

In 1992, Rossi ran for a Washington State Senate seat in a district representing suburbs east of Seattle, in the Cascade foothills. After winning a divisive Republican Party primary, he lost the general election. In 1996, Rossi ran again for the State Senate and was elected.

Rossi served in the Washington State Senate from 1997 until December 2003, when he resigned to spend full-time running for the governorship.[9] During his time as a senator, he gained a reputation for being a political consensus builder.[10]

When the Senate Republicans gained the majority in 2002, Rossi became chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee that writes the state's two year operating budget. As Ways and Means chairman, Rossi helped to carry out Democratic Governor Gary Locke's plans to close a $2.7 billion budget deficit.[11][12] The budget chief for Democratic Governor Gary Locke said of Rossi in 2003, "The really good legislators move from one side to the other really effortlessly, and I think Dino did that."[10] The Republican modifications to Locke's budget plan which Rossi oversaw included reaching a balanced budget by cutting the number of children eligible for Medicaid, cutting prenatal care for undocumented immigrants, cutting raises for state employees and increased tuition at colleges and universities.[12][13] Said former governor Locke, “For years, I have simply laughed when Dino Rossi took credit for devising a no-tax-increase budget for the 2003-2005 cycle while protecting vulnerable populations."[14]

In 1998, he co-sponsored the Mary Johnsen Act,[15] to require ignition interlock devices for certain convicted drunk drivers in the state of Washington. He also sponsored the Dane Rempfer bill[16] which boosted penalties for those who left the scene of a fatal accident, named after a 15-year-old boy from his district who was killed in a hit-and-run.

2004 gubernatorial campaignEdit

Rossi decided to run in November 2003,[17] but was already facing an uphill battle in terms of money raised, low name identification with voters and trends established by the two prior GOP candidates for governor. The sitting Washington State Attorney General and Rossi's eventual opponent in the general election, Democrat Christine Gregoire, had already raised $1.15 million by December, only weeks after Rossi officially kicked off his campaign.[citation needed] Furthermore, the previous two GOP candidates for governor had lost their campaign bids by 16% and 18.7% in 1996 and 2000.[18]

In the November 2 election, over 2.8 million votes were cast for governor. After the initial vote count, Rossi led Gregoire by 261 votes.[19]

Washington State law required a recount because of the small margin. After the second count, Rossi again led, but by a smaller margin of 42 votes. After a third count, done by hand, Gregoire took a 129-vote lead (expanded to a 133-vote lead after Justice Bridges' decision threw out 4 votes for Rossi).[20]

King County's election department was sued by the Rossi campaign for its handling of ballots, including untracked use of a "ballot-on-demand" printing machine.[21] Even before the election date, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue Washington State for failing to mail military ballots overseas, generally assumed to be Republican votes.[22]

Republican leaders in Washington claimed there were enough disputed votes to change the outcome of the election and sued. On May 25, 2005, the judge hearing the lawsuit ruled that the Party did not provide enough evidence that the disputed votes were ineligible, or for whom they were cast, to enable the court to overturn the election.[23] Rossi did not appeal to the state Supreme Court.[24]

The election is notable as the closest gubernatorial race in the history of the United States and was the subject of the Trova Heffernan book An Election for the Ages.[25]

2004 to 2008Edit

After the election and the ensuing court battle, Rossi returned to his work in real estate and wrote a book, Dino Rossi: Lessons in Leadership, Business, Politics and Life.[26][27] Along with former Seattle Mariner baseball star Jay Buhner, he also purchased a minority share in the Seattle Mariners' single A minor league baseball team, the Everett Aquasox.[28] Rossi also established Forward Washington Foundation, a 501(c)(4) non-profit lobbying entity dedicated to promoting changes to Washington's small business climate.[29]

In 2007, the Washington State Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Washington Public Disclosure Committee (PDC) asserting that the Forward Washington Foundation was too similar to a campaign to be exempt from campaign finance laws.[30] Prior to her party's formal complaint, Gregoire stated to donors that she was "campaigning aggressively".[31] The PDC dismissed in totality the allegations made by the Washington State Democrats, deeming each accusatory claim as "insufficient" and stating that the organization was indeed acting consistent with its mission statement, making it "a social welfare organization (...) and not a political committee".[32]

2008 gubernatorial campaignEdit

On October 25, 2007, Dino Rossi announced his intention to seek the office of Governor of Washington in 2008. Rossi's campaign was centered on many of the same issues he ran under in the 2004 election, namely controlling the spending of the state's legislature, tax cuts, and improving the business environment within the state.[33] He was endorsed by The Seattle Times.[34]

On October 7, a lawsuit was filed against the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), for allegedly coordinating fundraising activities with Rossi in violation of Washington's public finance laws. Rossi's campaign spokeswoman dismissed the suit as a desperate attempt by Gregoire's supporters to win an election through frivolous legal maneuvering, a claim that was denied by the lawyer that filed the suit.[35] In 2010 the lawsuit was dismissed "with prejudice".[36]

Dino Rossi was defeated by Governor Christine Gregoire in the 2008 election and formally conceded at noon on November 5, 2008.[37] Her margin of victory was 53.2% to 46.8%.[38]

2008 to 2010Edit

Following his defeat in the 2008 gubernatorial election, Rossi "unplugged from almost everything political" and became a principal at Coast Equity Partners, a commercial real estate firm in Everett, Washington. Rossi's role at the firm was to find investors for income producing properties in Washington and four other Western U.S. states.[39]

2010 U.S. Senate campaignEdit

Rossi campaign sign

In early 2010, Washington State Republicans began courting various conservatives to challenge incumbent Senator Patty Murray in a year that was seen by many as a vulnerable year for Democratic candidates. On May 26, 2010, Dino Rossi officially announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.[40] In the blanket primary, Rossi defeated Tea Party favorite Clint Didier 34% to 12%. Rossi went on to lose the general Election on November 4, after two days' worth of ballot counting indicated that he would not have enough votes to defeat Sen. Murray. In the final tally Murray received 1,314,930 votes (52.4%) to Rossi's 1,196,164 (47.6%).

The National Rifle Association spent $414,100 supporting Rossi and opposing Murray in the 2010 senatorial contest.[41]

2012 and 2016 appointments to the State SenateEdit

On July 10, 2012, Rossi was appointed to fill the term of Senator Cheryl Pflug.[42] Rossi left office in November 2012, when Mark Mullet was sworn in.[43]

After 2012 redistricting and the 2016 death of State Senator Andy Hill, Dino Rossi was appointed to the 45th District State Senate Seat. The Republican Party chose him over Kirkland City Councilman Toby Nixon and Joel Hussey from the King County Council.[44] Democrat Manka Dhingra defeated Republican Jinyoung Englund to take the seat in the November 7, 2017 special election.[45]

2018 U.S. House campaignEdit

On September 19, 2017, Rossi announced that he would run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 8th Congressional District.[46] The seat was held by Dave Reichert, who had decided not to run for reelection.[47][48] Rossi advanced out of the top-two primary to face Democrat Kim Schrier in the general election, which he lost, getting 48%.[49]

Personal lifeEdit

Rossi is married, with four children, and lives in Sammamish, Washington.[50] He identifies as a faithful Catholic.[51]

Electoral historyEdit

September 1992 State Senator District #5 Primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathleen Drew 8,598 36.21
Republican Dino Rossi 6,563 24.64
Republican Dick Welsh 3,215 13.54
Republican Bob Brady 2,788 11.74
Republican Gwenn Escher 2,581 10.87
November 1992 State Senator District #5 General election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathleen Drew 26,042 52.10
Republican Dino Rossi 23,942 47.90
September 1996 State Senator District #5 Primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathleen Drew 10,331 40.16
Republican Dino J. Rossi 8,291 32.33
Republican Dave Irons 7,100 27.60
November 1996 State Senator District #5 General election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dino Rossi 28,286 53.20
Democratic Kathleen Drew 24,882 46.80
September 2000 State Senator District #5 Primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dino Rossi 20,318 77.93
Democratic Azziem Hassan Underwood 5,754 22.07
November 2000 State Senator District #5 General
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dino Rossi 40,460 69.58
Democratic Azziem Hassan Underwood 17,686 30.42
2004 Washington state gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Christine Gregoire 1,373,361 48.8730
Republican Dino Rossi 1,373,232 48.8717
2008 Washington state gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Christine Gregoire 1,598,738 53.24
Republican Dino Rossi 1,404,124 46.76
2010 U.S. Senate Primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray (Incumbent) 433,211 46.04
Republican Dino Rossi 319,708 33.98
Republican Clint Didier 112,774 11.99
Republican Paul Akers 23,889 2.54
N/A Others 49,292 5.46
2010 U.S. Senate General election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray 1,314,930 52.36
Republican Dino Rossi 1,196,164 47.64
Nonpartisan blanket primary results, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dino Rossi[a] 73,288 43.1
Democratic Kim Schrier 31,837 18.7
Democratic Jason Rittereiser 30,708 18.1
Democratic Shannon Hader 21,317 12.5
Republican Jack Hughes-Hageman 4,270 2.5
Republican Gordon Allen Pross 2,081 1.2
Democratic Tom Cramer 1,468 0.9
Independent Bill Grassie[b] 1,163 0.7
Libertarian Richard Travis Reyes 1,154 0.7
Independent Keith Arnold 1,090 0.6
Independent Patrick Dillon[c] 898 0.5
No party preference Todd Mahaffey 673 0.4
Total votes 169,947 100.0
2018 Congressional District 8 - U.S. Representative
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kim Schrier 164,089 52.42
Republican Dino Rossi 148,968 47.58


  1. ^ Listed on ballot as "GOP Party."
  2. ^ Listed on ballot as "Independent Centrist."
  3. ^ Listed on ballot as "Neither Major Party."


  1. ^ Ralph Thomas (2004-09-28). "Family's struggles early in life forged Rossi's political identity". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
  2. ^ Ammons, David (October 11, 2004). "The salesman vs. 'the general' for governor Charming Rossi makes pitch as a friend of business". Kitsap Sun. Associated Press. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  3. ^ Galloway, Angela (2004-10-27). "Rossi hopes his American Dream takes him further". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved October 28, 2004.
  4. ^ Kelleher, Susan (2004-10-27). "As young salesman, Rossi stuck with his boss amid fraud scandal". Seattle Times. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  5. ^ Kaushik, Sandeep (2004-09-30). "No Sale: Rossi's Rags-to-Riches Story Includes a Convicted Felon". The Stranger. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  6. ^ Galloway, Angela (2004-09-28). "Campaign 2004: Rossi clarifies professional status". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved July 18, 2008.
  7. ^ "It Turns Out Rossi Has a History of Piling Up Earmarks Too". Publicola News. 2010. Archived from the original on June 7, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  8. ^ "Rossi linked to troubled commercial bank". Politico. 2010. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
  9. ^ Paul Queary (December 6, 2003). "Rossi quits Senate for governor's race". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Associated Press. Retrieved December 6, 2003.
  10. ^ a b Ralph Thomas (May 12, 2003). "Budget writer thrives in legislative hothouse". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 12, 2003.
  11. ^ James Harwood (March 31, 2004). "Presidential Politics Overshadow Rise of State Level Stars". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Local News | Senate budget in line with Locke's | Seattle Times Newspaper". community.seattletimes.nwsource.com. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  13. ^ "Did Dino Rossi take away coverage from 45,000 kids?". @politifact. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  14. ^ "Former Gov. Gary Locke attacks Dino Rossi's budget claims in 8th Congressional District campaign". The Seattle Times. 2018-10-25. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  15. ^ James Vesley (December 29, 1997). "Take A Deep Breath Now, And Try To Start Your Car". The Seattle Times.
  16. ^ Jim Brunner (March 31, 2000). "Crime laws bear names of young victims". The Seattle Times.
  17. ^ KOMO Staff & News Services (November 3, 2003). "State Senator Dino Rossi To Run For Governor". KOMO News. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  18. ^ "Washington State General Election Results, 1996, 2000". Office of Washington State Secretary of State.
  19. ^ Staff (November 18, 2004). "It's Rossi by 261; recount is next". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on March 23, 2006. Retrieved June 23, 2006.
  20. ^ Thomas, Ralph (2008-07-27). "Governor's Race | Dino Rossi's four years of political exile". Seattletimes.nwsource.com. Archived from the original on 2010-08-28. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
  21. ^ Seattle Times staff (April 26, 2005). "More mistakes revealed in ballot counting". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  22. ^ Seattle Times staff (January 10, 2005). "Feds threatened suit over military ballots". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  23. ^ Postman, David (June 6, 2005). "Rossi will not appeal election ruling". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008. Retrieved June 23, 2006.
  24. ^ Postman, David (June 7, 2005). "Rossi loses in court, won't appeal ruling". Seattle Times. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  25. ^ "An Election for the Ages: Rossi vs. Gregoire, 2004 by Trova Heffernan". Office of the Secretary of State. State of Washington. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  26. ^ David Ammons (2005-10-05). "In between campaigns, Rossi turns writer". KGW. Archived from the original on February 23, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  27. ^ Ralph Thomas (2008-09-18). "Dino Rossi's four years of political exile". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 2008-09-18. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
  28. ^ Greg Bell (2007-04-09). "Buhner, Rossi buy into Aquasox". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  29. ^ Steven Gardner (2007-05-10). "Rossi Stumps in Kitsap – for Budget Responsibility". The Kitsap Sun. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  30. ^ David Ammons (2007-06-26). "Democrats Submit Complaint Over Rossi's Foundation". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  31. ^ Joel Connelly (2006-07-26). "Dino Rossi Circles over Gregoire's head". The Seattle P-I. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  32. ^ "Draft letter to Dwight Pelz, Chair of the Washington State Democrats" (PDF). Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. 2007-11-28. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-03-17. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  33. ^ Joel Connelly (2007-10-28). "Gregoire's rematch with Rossi shapes up as a doozy". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
  34. ^ "The Times recommends Dino Rossi for governor". The Seattle Times. 2008-10-18. Archived from the original on 2008-10-18. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
  35. ^ McGann, Chris (2008-10-07). "Lawsuit targets Rossi's relationship with builders". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  36. ^ Smith, Erik (July 7, 2010). "At Long Last, BIAW Beats Legal Attack That Aimed to Break It – Caused Huge Embarrassment for Dino Rossi in 2008". Washington State Wire. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  37. ^ Andrew Garber (2008-11-05). "Rossi concedes defeat to Gregoire". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 2008-11-08. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  38. ^ Oldham, Kit (2009-01-21). "historylink.org". historylink.org. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
  39. ^ "Dino Rossi, 2-time gubernatorial candidate, has a new job". The Seattle Times. May 3, 2009. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  40. ^ Josh Feit (2010-05-26). "Dino Rossi Announces Candidacy for U.S. Senate". Publicola.net. Archived from the original on 2010-06-22. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
  41. ^ "Campaign cash: National Rifle Association (washingtonpost.com)". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  42. ^ "Dino Rossi appointed to be state senator again". Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  43. ^ Kagarise, Warren. "Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet joins state Senate". issaquahpress.com. Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  44. ^ Gutman, David (5 December 2016). "Dino Rossi chosen to fill vacant 45th District state Senate seat". The Seattle Times.
  45. ^ Manka Dhingra leading Jinyoung Englund in pivotal 45th District Senate race, Seattle Times, Joseph O’Sullivan, November 7, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  46. ^ Brunner, Jim (21 September 2017). "State Sen. Dino Rossi says he's running for 8th District seat vacated by Reichert". The Seattle Times.
  47. ^ Weigel, David (September 6, 2017). "Dave Reichert, a swing seat Republican, will retire from the House". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  48. ^ Brunner, Jim (6 September 2017). "U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert's retirement plans put his 8th district seat up for grabs". The Seattle Times.
  49. ^ Brunner, Jim (November 7, 2018). "Dino Rossi concedes 8th District race to Kim Schrier as new votes widen her lead". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  50. ^ "Election 2004 voters guide". Spokane Spokesman Review. 2004. Retrieved October 29, 2006.
  51. ^ "Republican Dino Rossi sees a long-sought victory in the 8th Congressional District race". The Seattle Times. 2018-08-02. Retrieved 2018-09-11.

External linksEdit

Washington State Senate
Preceded by
Kathleen Drew
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 5th district

Succeeded by
Cheryl Pflug
Preceded by
Cheryl Pflug
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 5th district

Succeeded by
Mark Mullet
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Carlson
Republican nominee for Governor of Washington
2004, 2008
Succeeded by
Rob McKenna
Preceded by
George Nethercutt
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Washington
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Chris Vance