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May 20, 2010 at 10:41 AM

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Palin's Didier endorsement: a big problem for Rossi?

Posted by Jim Brunner

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier got a big boost Thursday from former Alaska Gov. and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Palin lavished praise on Didier, the former pro football player turned Pasco alfalfa farmer, on her Twitter and Facebook pages, in an apparent primary endorsement.

That would seem to anoint Didier the favorite for the tea party vote in Washington State.

It will no doubt complicate Dino Rossi's decision on whether to jump into the race against incumbent Sen. Patty Murray.

Recruited by national power brokers including GOP chairman Michael Steele, Rossi has so far refused to announce his intentions.

But if he runs, Rossi will be the establishment Republican candidate in a year where such candidates have been getting trashed by angry tea party voters. (See Bob Bennett's loss in Utah and Rand Paul's victory in Kentucky.)

Of course, Washington's "top two" primary makes our situation different. Rossi's name recognition may be enough to pull him through the primary if he gets in. Still, a bruising primary fight among Republicans probably wouldn't do him any good.

Rossi is speaking Friday at the Mainstream Republicans annual conference in Seatac -- an event not likely to endear himself to tea party voters. (A scheduled Saturday panel discussion is called "Tea Party or the Republican Party? How Ross Perot Elected Bill Clinton.")

Here is Palin's Twitter statement on Didier:


(86 was Didier's number when he played tight end for the Washington Redskins.)

Palin's Facebook post called Didier a "selfless, inspiring commonsense conservative" who would "help put our country on the right track."

Former state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance, a Rossi supporter, argues Palin's endorsement won't mean much if Rossi gets in the race.

"If Dino Rossi chooses to run, the Republican world will line up with Dino Rossi," said Vance. "And that will include the conservative base."

"There have always been Republican candidates who split the Republican base one way or the other. Dino was the one guy everybody loved."

Despite his fierce anti-government rhetoric, Didier's 1000-acre Pasco farm has benefited from direct federal crop subsidies, as well as government-subsidized irrigation water. See my article on that from earlier this week.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.