In what will be the “seal the deal” for Democrat Christine Gregiore, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed will certify the vote tomorrow, making final the 129 vote lead Gregiore has, and officially putting her as “Governor-elect”.
The Rossi camp is incensed, and is trying to get around the will of the people. He won’t concede. After weeks of calling on Gregiore to concede, now that it’s his turn, a Rossi spokeswoman said, “No concession. There are just too many questions, too many problems.”
If there were, wouldn’t Rossi have brought this up while HE was in the lead? Even if a candiate wins an office in a landslide, if there are irregularities that they have concerns over, they should bring it up then — not when the tables are turned.
Concede, Rossi. For the good of Washington State.
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Closest governor’s race: It’s Governor-elect Gregoire, but no Rossi concession
By DAVID AMMONS
AP POLITICAL WRITER
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Democrat Christine Gregoire, the three-term state attorney general who fought America’s tobacco industry, Internet porn and schoolyard bullying, becomes Washington’s governor-elect on Thursday, by a scant 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.
But a legal challenge could be right around the corner, perpetuating the longest, closest governor’s race in state history. Her Republican rival, Dino Rossi, isn’t conceding yet.
“No concession,” said Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane. “There are just too many questions, too many problems. As of right now, we don’t believe this has been a proper or well-run election.”
More than eight weeks after Election Day, the Republican secretary of state, Sam Reed, will certify the results of an unprecedented third vote tally. The statewide hand recount put Gregoire ahead for the first time, by just a tiny fraction of 1 percent.
Rossi, the former state Senate budget committee chairman, won the regular tally last month by 261 votes, triggering an automatic machine recount. He won that count, too, by 42 votes.
But it didn’t end there. Democrats, aided by presidential candidates John Kerry and Howard Dean, rounded up $1 million in donations, mostly online, to order an unprecedented hand recount.
That count, done precinct by precinct by bipartisan teams with swarms of observers watching, showed Gregoire ahead by just 10 votes. After Democrats and election officials got permission from the state Supreme Court, a batch of 735 wayward ballots in King County was tallied, stretching her lead to three digits.
The final tally: Gregoire, 1,373,361; Rossi, 1,373,232. Both polled 48.87 percent of the vote. A third candidate, Libertarian Ruth Bennett, polled 63,465, or 2.26 percent. She theorizes that many of her votes came from Gregoire’s base.
Democrats, by the way, get their money back because the recount flipped the result in their favor. Taxpayers will foot the bill.
Reed’s certification confers the title “governor-elect” on Gregoire. Rossi has been using the title, although Gregoire’s camp called the race essentially tied and refused to concede.
Both Gregoire and Rossi have maintained transition offices, appointing teams to work on a state budget, cabinet appointments and an agenda for the upcoming Legislature.
Rossi and his family even toured the Gov.’s Mansion.
Gregoire was reported resting with her family on Wednesday, but aides were preparing for Thursday afternoon event in Olympia to claim victory. She stopped short of declaring herself the winner last week when King County became the last county to certify returns.
“After tomorrow, she will be unquestionably the governor-elect,” said spokesman Morton Brilliant.
“This is done, done, and she becomes governor-elect,” added Kirstin Brost, spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party. “No one thinks they have a shot at an election contest.”
Lane said Rossi and his advisers, including state GOP Chairman Chris Vance, were weighing whether to proceed with contesting the results.
State Elections Director Nick Handy, a former assistant attorney general, said state law and court opinions seem to conclude that a challenge would be mounted in the court system, not the Legislature.
Rossi already has been mentioned as a challenger to first-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, who faces voters in 2006.
Gregoire, who becomes only the second female governor in Washington history, was a top official in the attorney general’s office before then-Gov. Booth Gardner tapped her as state ecology director. In 1992 she was elected to the first of three terms as attorney general.
She made her mark as lead negotiator between the states and America’s tobacco industry, winning a landmark settlement that should bring the states over $200 billion.
The settlement compensates the states for tobacco-related health care costs, and curbs marketing efforts like billboards and ads aimed at youth. In exchange, states agreed not to pursue potentially crippling lawsuits against tobacco companies.
Gregoire negotiated a pact with the federal government to clean up contamination at the Hanford nuclear reservation. She also dealt with Internet child porn, schoolyard bullying, identity theft, Enron and Western power rates.