Friday, October 26, 2007

Dino Rossi Sets up Rematch with Gregoire

Dino Rossi was defeated in the 2004 Washington gubernatorial race only after a bitter dispute over absentee ballots:

In the November 2 election, over 2.8 million votes were cast for Governor. After the initial vote count, Rossi led Democrat Christine Gregoire by 261 votes.

A series of recounts and legal battles ensued. Rossi led by an even smaller margin after the first recount.

After a second recount, done by hand, gave Gregoire a very slim lead.

Along the way it was discovered that hundreds of disputed votes, including votes by suspected felons, deceased voters, and double voters, were included in the canvas. King County's election department (the greater Seattle area) came under fire for how it handled its ballots, including untracked use of a "ballot-on-demand" printing machine. Also, ballots in six counties were discovered after the initial count and included in the recounts, the most being from King County, a heavy supporter of Gregoire. Even before the election date, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue Washington state for failing to mail military ballots overseas, generally assumed to be Republican votes.

Washington Republican leaders claimed there were enough disputed votes to change the outcome of the election and sued. On May 25, 2005 the judge hearing the lawsuit ruled that the Party did not provide enough evidence that the disputed votes were ineligible votes, or for whom they were cast, to enable the court to overturn the election.

Rossi has declared that he will seek the governorship again in 2008:

Former state Sen. Dino Rossi announced Thursday that he will challenge Washington Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire in a rematch of their extraordinary close and controversial 2004 contest.

“The state government we set out to change four years ago is more expensive and less effective at solving our problems... It’s going to take new leadership in Olympia.” Rossi said in his announcement speech from his hometown of Issaquah, an outer suburb of Seattle.

Rossi’s entry, which was widely expected, solidifies’s rating of the Washington governor’s race as No Clear Favorite...

Yet the Democrats’ statistical advantage in the state is not overwhelming, and Republican statewide candidates can compete strongly under the right circumstances — as Rossi showed in losing to Gregoire last time by a razor-thin and heavily disputed margin.

The race is sure to be one of the closest of 2008 -- heavily targeted by both sides.

The local blog SoundPolitics did a great job of covering the race and recount in 2004; it looks like they will be following it closely again in 2008. They report that at the outset, enthusiasm is high for the candidate that a majority believes actually won in 2004.

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