Dino Rossi first ran for the state senate in 1992 and lost. He ran again in 1996 and won with 53 percent of the vote. His district represents east King County, which includes both Seattle suburbs and rural areas. He won re-election in 2000 with 70 percent of the vote.
Though he only served in the state senate for seven years he rose quickly through the ranks to become budget chairman. State GOP leaders, and even President Bush, encouraged Rossi to run for governor but it took a while for him to decide. Before Rossi jumped in the race, the state party asked and was turned down by three other prominent Republicans. Rossi stepped down from his senate seat to run for governor.