With Republican Brand Damaged, Some Turn to 'GOP'

Washington's Race for Governor Plays Into National Republican Unpopularity

Washington, especially Seattle, is a state so blue that "Republicans for Obama" bumper stickers are common. At Halloween costume stores this season, Barack Obama is easily outselling John McCain.

One customer told us, "I'm going as an endangered species -- a Republican."

It's a challenging environment for Republican Dino Rossi, who's decided to run for governor under the label GOP instead of Republican.

GOP, short for the Grand Old Party, has been a nickname for the Republican Party since the 1800s. Rossi is using GOP in his campaign ads, and on the ballot.

While the term is well-entrenched, many people believe his decision is an effort to distance himself from the damaged brand of the Republican Party, something Rossi himself disputes.

"That's sheer silliness," he told ABC News. "Every speech I give, I talk about me being a Republican. That's no secret."

Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire, who beat Rossi by 133 votes in 2004, disagrees. She sued, unsuccessfully, to force Rossi to put "Republican" next to his name on the ballot.

He "says he's 'GOP'... knowing full well people don't know what that stands for," Gregoire said. "And knowing full well that if they're confused, they might think he's a Democrat."

Rossi denied that the move to GOP was intended to "confuse" Democratic voters into voting Republican.

"Well, most everyone I know knows GOP means Republican," he said.

One polls shows 25 percent of Washington voters, including 18 percent of Washington Republicans, didn't know what GOP means.

"That's a good question," said one Lakewood voter. "I actually don't know the answer to that."

Republicans across the country are resorting to extraordinary measures to distance themselves from a party weighed down by an unpopular president.

In Oregon, Republican Sen. Gordon Smith is running ads linking himself to Obama in hopes of gaining appeal.

Whatever Rossi's motives may be, many believe that using GOP, instead of Republican on the ballot, could give him an edge in what is expected to be another tight race.

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