Will Nick Rolovich be Washington’s next governor?

Now that Nick Rolovich has been elevated to anti-vax martyrdom, he’s a natural to run for political office.

No government experience, civics training, or public administration background is required. The fact he’s lived in Washington for only a little over a year, and knows almost nothing about its history, culture, or politics isn’t a problem, either.

Remember, he’s a Republican, and they don’t have to know anything. GOPers don’t believe in government, prefer to do without it, and want to wreck it if they can, so being able to run a government isn’t a required or desired qualification in that constituency.

Rolovich, newly unemployed, is available. Sure, the governor is a state employee, and the state has a vaccine mandate. But if he became governor, he could avoid the mandate by rescinding it.

He’s unemployed because he refused to get vaccinated. His former employer, Washington State University, had no choice but to fire him from his $3.2 million-a-year head football coach job. So they did, at the last minute, after giving him every chance to comply. KREM 2 TV in Spokane says, “Per university policy, Rolovich was given the option to get vaccinated before he lost his job.” (See story here.)

He wouldn’t talk to the press about his views on mandatory vaccination, other than saying he’s against it, so we can only make some suppositions. Rolovich is Catholic, so he’s probably against abortion (his church is), and his objection to the vaccine may flow from the fact that fetal stem cells were used in testing the vaccines (but not in the vaccines themselves).

A big problem with that argument is the Catholic Church doesn’t object to the vaccines; the Pope has endorsed them. So where that specific objection comes from isn’t the Church, but the conservative media and blogosphere. That makes his objection political, not religious, and there’s no exemption from the governor’s mandate for political reasons. That made his exemption request shaky at best.

It’s possible there wasn’t even an exemption decision. WSU has a backlog of requests. But in the end, it wasn’t about whether he could satisfy exemption criteria. The deciding factor, Seattle TV station KING 5 reported, was “the university said they could not make accommodations for him.” (See story here). The university has used the example of a graphic designer who works in isolation as someone who possibly could be accommodated. A coach’s job is different; there’s a lot of public contact.

Now that Rolovich is looking for another gig, could he actually get elected governor? Not as a Republican in Washington. He’ll get 43% of the vote, same as anybody with an “R” after their name. Loren Culp got 43% of the vote. A dog would get 43%, if you glued an “R” to its collar. (If it’s a Husky dog, it’ll get 44%.) A credible Republican candidate with statewide name recognition, like Rob McKenna, might get 48%. But that’s all. Washington hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1980.

If Rolovich didn’t have statewide name recognition before, he does now. And he likely would be wildly popular in Eastern Washington, the home of the college football team he used to coach, where he was well-liked by his players and WSU fans. But note that Culp, a former one-man police department who was being sued by a sexual assault victim, is also popular there. The only eastern Washington county Culp didn’t win was Whitman, where WSU is (see results here). This is anti-government territory, even though the eastern Washington economy heavily depends on federal largesse. (It’s the most socialist part of the state.)

The problem for both these guys is Eastern Washington has only a fifth of Washington’s voters, and even in combination with the economically distressed coastal logging communities, where local economies benefit much less from government spending and subsidies, they’re overwhelmed by the huge mass of liberal voters in the Puget Sound counties who keep voting to keep giving them socialistic handouts for roads, schools, and firefighting (among other things). It’s a big problem, a hurdle that can’t be overcome by any amount of wingnut passion. When you’re outvoted, you lose.

And what’s with the ground tackle draped around his neck? Is he going sailing? The problem is, a lot of Washington liberals associate neck chains with slavery, and those who don’t associate it with drug dealers, gang members, and Nigerian call center scammers, for whom neck chains are favorite accoutrements. He should ditch it.

What about Rolovich’s probable opponent? We don’t even know who it is. Three-term incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee will be 73 in 2024, and might not run again. It doesn’t matter. You could run a dog, put a “D” after its name, and it would get 55% of the vote. If it’s a Husky dog, it would get 58%, maybe 60%.

But the real problem isn’t that Rolovich is a Republican, or is from Eastern Washington, or is a political crackpot. It’s the beard.

You can’t get elected in this state with a beard. Now, if Rolovich shaved his, and his opponent grew one, he might have a chance.

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  1. Mark Adams #

    First i going to be the law suit that WSU and maybe the governor will receive in a few days or weeks. It maybe reasonable to fine someone the equivalent of a 1905 five dollar fine. Courts may well find firing and ending peoples careers is not reasonable. The man has been coaching at WWU since this started and the universities argument may not hold a lot of water with the court. It may not help that OSHA has yet to produce published rules.
    A lot of people lost jobs today under a Democrat Governor, the friends of workers.
    Football coaches who run for governor or other public office typically do well no matter which party they run in, heck he could run as an Independent which could throw the whole calculations here off. Maybe another university will snatch him up, guess the Las Vegas Raiders are looking for a couch.
    The Republicans really missed a chance o get a Republican into the governors office. Washington is a Democratic state, but the Republicans here somehow also shoot themselves in the foot. In baseball running a Culp is an error, and it is in politics. If Nick Rolovich gets a bit of fire in his stomach 2024 could be different.

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    You’re focusing on what this does to Rolovich, not what the virus has done to our country. Therein lies the great fallacy of vaccine and mask resistance; “me,” “I,” “my,” etc., won’t cut it here. Defeating the virus requires pulling together, and it’s time for resisters to get with the program. Being selfish amid this crisis is a losing proposition for them individually, and for the country.
    The GOP ran Culp because that’s who their primary voters chose. Is he a worse candidate than Trump? Neither can win in Washington; but Culp beat Trump by 4 points here.
    If Republicans want to win in this state, they need to pick candidates who can govern. And stop turning people off with their behavior.
    By voting and acting the way they do, they’re flushing their, and their party’s, credibility down the drain.