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Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008, 12:01 a.m.
ENDORSEMENT


Strong leader Gregoire deserves a second term

Judging from the TV and radio ads, you'd think both candidates for governor were incompetent, corrupt, or both. In truth, they're neither.
The high-profile campaign reflects the closeness of a race between formidable opponents; its nastiness reflects bitter feelings from their 2004 matchup, which ended in a virtual tie that took two recounts and a court case to settle.
Gov. Chris Gregoire and former state Sen. Dino Rossi are both intelligent, committed leaders who have the best interests of Washington citizens at heart. They're competitive, too, each convinced that they offer the best plan for building a prosperous state.
Four years ago, when they were vying for an open seat, we endorsed Rossi because of his impressive mediation work balancing the budget in 2003 as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. This time, we have a candidate with a track record in the governor's office, and we think it's a strong one. While we still believe Rossi has much to offer, we endorse Gregoire for re-election.
To balance the next budget, which faces a potential $3.2 billion shortfall, Gregoire says she'll use data gathered by her Government Management and Performance effort, offering an evidence-based way to prioritize. Programs that aren't providing a good return will be cut, she says. And, although Rossi doesn't believe her, we do when she says she has no interest in raising taxes to balance this budget.
On education, Gregoire has led good progress. She has increased funding for early childhood education, which will have a huge long-term payoff, and K-12 schools. She has held firm on standards and accountability, standing up to special interests -- including those that support her -- to keep graduation requirements from being watered down.
She supports bringing a four-year public university campus to Snohomish County, and has helped move the issue faster than most thought it could. Rossi suggests that he's not yet convinced of the need for it -- a need we think has been demonstrated.
Far more Washington children now have health-care coverage because of Gregoire, which means fewer of them will wind up in hospital emergency rooms because they didn't have preventive care.
She's been a leader on trade issues that are so important to our trade-dependent state, and has been a visible supporter of our critical aerospace industry. We think her transportation plans are more realistic than Rossi's, which would divert substantial sums from the general fund.
Gregoire has proven to be a strong leader who's not afraid to take on entrenched interests when necessary, and she'll need to keep doing so in what will be a challenging second term. We think she's up to the task.

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Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

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