Dino Rossi (born October 15, 1959) is an American businessperson and politician who most recently served as a member of the Washington State Senate for the 45th district. Rossi was appointed to the seat on an interim basis after the death of incumbent Andy Hill.
|Member of the Washington Senate
from the 45th district
December 5, 2016 – November 29, 2017
|Preceded by||Andy Hill|
|Succeeded by||Manka Dhingra|
|Member of the Washington Senate
from the 5th district
July 2012 – November 30, 2012
|Preceded by||Cheryl Pflug|
|Succeeded by||Mark Mullet|
|Preceded by||Kathleen Drew|
|Succeeded by||Cheryl Pflug|
October 15, 1959 |
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
|Alma mater||Seattle University|
Rossi is an American commercial real estate executive, perennial candidate, two-time Republican nominee for Governor of Washington, and former Republican candidate for United States Senate. His first run for governor in the 2004 election became the closest gubernatorial race in U.S. history; Rossi was certified as governor-elect and won the first recount before losing a second recount, done by hand, to Democrat Christine Gregoire. He ran for governor again in 2008, losing again to Gregoire.
Rossi next challenged incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray in the 2010 U.S. Senate race. Rossi defeated his Republican primary challengers, but lost to Murray in the general election 52% to 47%.
Rossi was selected to fulfill a vacancy in the State Senate's 5th district in 2012 after the resignation of Cheryl Pflug. He was again selected in 2016 to fulfill a vacancy in the 45th district after the death of Andy Hill.
Early life, education, and 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. 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.
After college, Rossi began in the commercial real estate business. He became a commercial real estate salesman, managing and owning real estate. Rossi was formerly an owner of the Everett Aquasox minor league baseball team. He is co-founder of the Bellevue, Washington-based Eastside Commercial Bank.
State Senate tenureEdit
In 1992, Rossi ran for a Washington State Senate seat in a district representing suburbs east of Seattle, Washington 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 governor. During his time as senator, he gained a reputation for being a political consensus builder with a proven ability to build bipartisan coalitions. 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. It was in this position that Rossi was widely credited for closing a $2.7 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. He passed this budget with bipartisan support, gaining praise from members of both parties, including the ranking Democrat on the budget committee. 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.”
Rossi sponsored a number of bills as a state senator prior to his role as chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, including the Two Strikes bill that puts child molesters away for life after a second conviction. In 1998, he sponsored the Mary Johnsen Act, named for a Sammamish resident who was killed by a drunk driver. The bill required ignition interlock devices for certain convicted drunk drivers in the state of Washington. Rossi received the national finalist award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his work. He also sponsored the Dane Rempfer bill 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. It was his work on the 2003 budget that spurred others to recruit Rossi to run for governor.
2004 gubernatorial campaignEdit
Rossi decided to run in November 2003, 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, Christine Gregoire, had already raised $1.15 million by December, only weeks after Rossi officially kicked off his campaign. Furthermore, the previous two GOP candidates for governor had lost their campaign bids by 16% and 18.7% in 1996 and 2000.
In the November 2 election, over 2.8 million votes were cast for governor. After the initial vote count, Rossi led Democrat Christine Gregoire by 261 votes. 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).
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. 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.
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.
Between 2004 and 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. 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. Rossi also established Forward Washington Foundation, a 501(c)(4) non-profit lobbying entity dedicated to promoting changes to Washington's small business climate. In 2007, the 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. Prior to her party’s formal complaint, Gregoire stated to donors that he was “campaigning aggressively". 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”.
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.
In 2004, Rossi was listed on the ballot as a Republican. In 2008, his affiliation was listed as "Prefers G.O.P. Party" as he had filed with the Washington Secretary of State. Washington law allows candidates to identify their party affiliation or preference in any way they please, provided that it is not profane.
Rossi has said pharmacists should not be required to dispense a drug that is against their conscience or religious beliefs when asked about the Plan B oral contraceptive. Following a ruling by the State Supreme Court that an initiative that limited property tax increases to 1% a year was unconstitutional, Rossi urged Governor Gregoire to call a special session of the State's legislature to re-instate the restriction. As of September 2008, the Rossi campaign was reported to have raised $9 million while the Gregoire campaign took in $10 million overall. A poll in early October showed Rossi tied with Governor Gregoire in the race for governor. A later poll by the Elway Group showed Rossi trailing Gov. Gregoire by 12 percent.
On October 7, a lawsuit was filed against the Building Industry Association of Washington, 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. Rossi was endorsed on October 18, 2008 by The Seattle Times.
Between 2008 and 2010Edit
Following his defeat in the 2008 gubernatorial election, Rossi "unplugged from almost everything political" and became a principal at a commercial real estate firm called Coast Equity Partners in Everett, Washington. Rossi's role at the firm is to find investors for income producing properties in Washington and four other Western U.S. states.
2010 U.S. Senate campaignEdit
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 Democrats. On May 26, 2010, Dino Rossi officially announced his candidacy. In the Republican primary, Rossi defeated Tea Party favorite Clint Didier 33.98% - 11.99%. 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.
2012 and 2016 Appointments to the State SenateEdit
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. The seat was taken by Democrat Manka Dhingra in the November 7, 2017 election.
2018 U.S. House campaignEdit
On September 19, 2017, Rossi announced that he would run for Congress in the 8th Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Dave Reichert, who had decided not to run for reelection.
|Republican||Dino J. Rossi||6,563||24.64|
|Republican||Dino J. Rossi||23,942||47.90|
|Republican||Dino J. Rossi||8,291||32.33|
|Democratic||Azziem Hassan Underwood||5,754||22.07|
|Democratic||Azziem Hassan Underwood||17,686||30.42|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (Incumbent)||433,211||46.04|
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- "Senate Bill 5509". 1997 Legislative Session. Check date values in:
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- Jim Brunner (March 31, 2000). "Crime laws bear names of young victims". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 31, 2000. Check date values in:
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- Dino Rossi appointed to be state senator again
- Kagarise, Warren. "Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet joins state Senate". issaquahpress.com. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
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- [https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/45th-district-state-senate-manka-dhingra-jinyoung-englund/ Manka Dhingra leading Jinyoung Englund in pivotal 45th District Senate race], Seattle Times, Joseph O’Sullivan, November 7, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
- Brunner, Jim. "State Sen. Dino Rossi says he's running for 8th District seat vacated by Reichert". The Seattle Times.
- Brunner, Jim. "U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert's retirement plans put his 8th district seat up for grabs". The Seattle Times.
- Dino Rossi for Congress
- Washington State Senate Republican Caucus website
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Campaign contributions at OpenSecrets.org
|Washington State Senate|
|Member of the Washington Senate
from the 5th district
|Member of the Washington Senate
from the 5th district
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for Governor of Washington
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Washington