Expect a dirty fight in race for governor

If Thursday’s opening round is any indication, Rossi- Gregoire II will be a brawl.

Republican Dino Rossi entered the race and immediately jabbed hard at Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who’s worn the gubernatorial belt since their 2004 match.

The blows were glancing at best. She sidestepped them and is loading up a counter-punch.

Eventually, these political pugilists will pound each other up one coast and down the other, across the Canadian border and along the Columbia River.

We cretins will absorb their punishing rhetoric of attack and allegation for the next 373 days until ballots are tallied — at least the first count.

Then the pain will set in and we’ll realize we all suffer from cauliflower ear.

If the condition is detected early enough — say before Gregoire formally launches her re-election and the two of them switch from gloves to bare-knuckles — permanent injury can be prevented with proper treatment.

One curative process involves use of Hirudo medicinalis, or medicinal leeches, which can suck the poison embedded by the campaign oration before it causes grave damage.

Before it reaches that point, I suspect those who can travel far away, but not so far that a mail ballot won’t reach them, will do so.

That may explain why King County gazillionaire Craig McCaw, the famously successful telecommunications visionary, is setting roots in Santa Barbara County.

If not that, then maybe he’s decided his next venture is of a very personal nature — polishing the McCaw name that’s been thoroughly tarnished in that community by his ex-wife, Wendy.

Here I must bow to writer Nick Welsh, whose Oct. 18 column in the Santa Barbara Independent unfurls the musings and speculations that has the town talking about the two McCaws.

Wendy’s controversial running of the Santa Barbara News-Press, the city’s oldest daily — the details of which are novel-worthy — has made her desired by few and disdained by many. Any utterance of “McCaw” is generally accompanied by a very inglorious adjective or two.

That’s got to hurt Craig McCaw, who’s worked hard to bring honor and value to the family name.

Here in Washington, McCaw is a community gold-standard. Having Craig or his brother Bruce or their wives, Susan and Jolene, respectively, on your side is a positive force in social, business and political causes.

In Santa Barbara, the moniker is muddied and devalued.

If he is looking to restore the family honor, he’s doing so in a manner in which he’s most comfortable.

As Welsh points out, Craig is a rumored player in several signature projects, the completion of which could compel a community reappraisal of the McCaw name.

It will take time; he may end up voting by mail in 2008.

Still, I might send him a leech. There’s plenty of political poison down there.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield’s column on politics runs every Sunday. He can be heard at 8 a.m. Monday on “The Morning Show” on KSER (90.7 FM). He can be reached at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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