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Washington’s stem cells

Stem cell research would seem to be an odd topic for the Washington governor’s race – more a national issue than a state subject. But it evidently has some resonance. It has become such a hot topic that the state’s largest newspaper is asking a gubernatorial candidate not to discuss it.

It launched in a major way a few weeks ago with a campaign by Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire, who is arguing that her opponent, Republican Dino Rossi, opposes stem cell research, which she supports. Rossi says he does not oppose the research; the basis for her flat contention hasn’t been entirely clear.

The ads are clear enough, though, as are the press releases on the subject, one released as recently as yesterday.

Rossi has shot back that he does in fact support stem cell research, and noted (unrebutted) that Gregoire’s administation hasn’t put any money into stem cell research. (She argues that a research fund has been established, and stem-cell related requests are in the pipeline.)

Yesterday the Seattle Times editorialized, “Enough of stem cells. The job of governor has nothing to do with stem cells. Gov. Christine Gregoire should use her re-election money to talk about things the governor actually does, starting with budgets and taxes. She should end the TV ads of people who fret that Dino Rossi is standing between them and medical salvation.”

To which Goldy at Horse’s Ass responded, “The governor’s stem cell ads are without a doubt the most evocative and effective of the campaign, and the Times damn well knows it. That’s why they chose to use their bully pulpit to try to bully her into pulling the spots. I mean, could they be any more obvious?”

All of this sounds like a form of code combat – “stem cell research” standing in for something else, maybe something too difficult to go after directly. That may be suggested by the final bullet point in Gregoire’s press release yesterday: “Gov. Gregoire is a supporter of science-based research. Republican Dino Rossi is willing to let his personal beliefs stand in the way of scientific research.”

That’s probably a little closer to where the battle here really resides.

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