Rossi is a real estate developer who has twice lost races for governor. Rossi, 50, lost to Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire by 133 votes in 2004 after two recounts. He lost to her by nearly 200,000 votes in 2008. He is seeking to capitalize on anti-incumbent sentiment in a state that has voted Democrat the past six presidential elections.
Rossi said the decision of voters is about changing leadership in a government that is spending too much and growing too big.
Murray, following her usual strategy of limiting debates, has agreed to just two--one in Spokane and one in Seattle. Murray declined an invitation to a debate sponsored by KING 5, The Seattle Times, KIRO Radio and Northwest Cable News. The KING 5 station manager said the debate was aimed for a prime time slot around Oct. 15. He said organizers would have tried to be flexible to accommodate Murray's schedule. But she still refused.
Rossi released an "open letter" to voters, criticizing Murray for shunning additional debates: "Sen. Murray is shortchanging you and the other
Murray's campaign maintains that two debates is enough, and says Murray is too busy to d more considering her Senate schedule. "We had a number of very promising proposals. We considered all of them. We made a choice to accept two debates, one in Western Washington and one in Eastern Washington, that would both be available to statewide audiences and reach as many voters as possible," said Murray campaign spokeswoman.
Murray has a history of limiting debates with her challengers--a classic incumbent strategy. In 1998, during her first re-election campaign, Murray agreed to just one debate with Republican challenger Linda Smith. In 2004, Murray consented to two debates, frustrating Republican George Nethercutt, who proceeded to traverse the state "debating" an empty pair of tennis shoes.
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