Murray, Rossi hard at work on campaign trail

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray told 325 jubilant supporters in Vancouver on Friday that she wants another six-year term so she can keep fighting for Washington families and small businesses on Main Street.

Fresh from a hard-fought primary election in which her tally fell short of 50 percent, the three-term Democratic senator delivered a populist speech at an old-fashioned, sign-waving rally at Hamilton Hall at the Fort Vancouver National Site.

Murray touted a long list of accomplishments she has delivered to the state of Washington over 18 years in office, from saving veterans’ hospitals the Bush administration tried to close, to winning passage of national pipeline safety legislation after a pipeline explosion in Belling-ham killed three people, to insisting that the Obama administration include money for Columbia River channel deepening in the federal stimulus bill.

“I have never given up, and I have never backed down,” Murray said.

Wearing jeans and her trademark tennis shoes, Murray directed her most barbed comments yet at her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, for opposing a $26 billion state aid bill passed by Congress two weeks ago and for announcing that he favors repeal of recently passed Wall Street reform legislation.

“A few weeks ago, I fought to keep our kids from going back to even more-crowded classrooms by getting more aid for troubled states like ours,” Murray said. She noted that Congress paid for the $26 billion bill by closing corporate tax loopholes.

“I thought, ‘Who in the world would support extending corporate tax loopholes over education for our kids?’ Well, I found him. His name is Dino Rossi. He talks a big game about reining in spending, but apparently, when it comes down to it, if it hurts his corporate sponsors – turns out he’s not speaking for you.”

Meanwhile in Kennewick, Rossi sat at a gathering of a dozen Mid-Columbia business owners, surrounded by faces lined with worry, stress and fear.

They talked to him in a back room at the Country Gentleman about being overtaxed and overregulated, about wanting to expand but being afraid they will be penalized with more taxes and more regulations if they do.

Bill Lampson, owner of Lamp-son Cranes of Kennewick, said he won’t even think about expansion until some of the government regulations constraining him are lifted.

“People like me are not interested in hiring anymore not only because of the (economic) uncertainty, but because of the overregulation,” Lampson said.

Rossi said the concerns raised by the business owners aren’t new to him. He is hearing them from business owners across the state as he travels for his campaign against incumbent Murray.

The Tri-City Herald contributed to this report.