Democrat Christine Gregoire struck the pose of a victor but did not claim victory Thursday in the marathon race for governor.
|In the final count
Gregoire wins: Democrat Christine Gregoire won the second and final recount in the Washington governor’s race by a margin of 130 votes over Republican Dino Rossi.
The tally: Gregoire, 1,373,171 votes; Rossi, 1,373,041 votes.
What’s ahead: Secretary of State Sam Reed plans to certify the election results Thursday, making Gregoire governor-elect. Republicans are preparing for possible legal challenges.
Next deadlines: The inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 12. Any registered voter has until Jan. 20 to file a lawsuit challenging the results of the election.
Though she held a 130-vote lead over Republican Dino Rossi, she won’t claim triumph until the results of the statewide hand recount are certified next week.
“I’m not declaring that I’m the winner,” Gregoire said. “It is time for this race and this election to be over.”
Rossi did not concede Thursday, and he and his party continued to insist ballot-counting is not over.
“I know many Washingtonians are hoping this will end soon, but I’m also sure that people across this state want a clean election and a legitimate governor-elect. At this point, we have neither,” Rossi said in a prepared statement.
Secretary of State Sam Reed is scheduled to certify the results Thursday.
Gregoire would then claim the title of governor-elect that Rossi has held during much of the 52-day ordeal with its three ballot counts and two trips to the state Supreme Court. And there remains the possibility the results will be contested.
Gregoire would become the state’s 22nd governor and join DixyDuty Lee Ray as the only women to hold the office. It is the sixth straight gubernatorial election won by Democrats. Rossi was hoping to become the first Republican governor in 20 years.
Gregoire said she’s received congratulatory phone calls from former President Clinton, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who contributed $250,000 for the outcome-turning hand recount.
Thursday evening, in the state room of the Capitol, Gov. Gary Locke praised Rossi for a “brilliant campaign” that carried forth the “issues, priorities and vision” of nearly half the voters.
He then introduced Gregoire as the “apparent governor-elect.”
“This has been quite the roller coaster,” she began in a short address in which she acknowledged the heat of the campaign and called for residents to now “move together as one state.”
That was not the emotion outside the Capitol where about 75 people braved the cold to show support for Rossi and resolve for the latest tactic intended to net him the win.
Copying a page from the Democrats’ strategy, Rossi and the Washington State Republican Party want rejected ballots reconsidered by county canvassing boards in hopes that errors can be corrected and the votes counted.
They contend that when the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday to let King County fix mistakes to count 735 previously rejected ballots, it opened the door for such actions everywhere else.
Republicans stumbled in their first attempt Thursday. They brought affidavits for 91 voters whose ballots had not been counted to the King County Canvassing Board. The panel, comprised of two Democrats and one Republican, unanimously refused to consider them.
Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger said he received a letter from the Republican Party and affidavits of several voters seeking review of their rejected ballots. He said he will inform the party that no action will be taken.
“The time has passed for any reconsideration or re-evaluation of any errors or discrepancies in the recount process,” he said.
But canvassing boards in Kittitas and Skamania counties will meet next week, according to Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane.
Republicans are undaunted. Using the Internet and radio talk shows, they are scouring the state for voters who believe or know their ballots had not been counted.
“This count is not over. This battle is not over,” said state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance.
The next governor is scheduled to be inaugurated Jan. 12. If the outcome is not completed, either Locke or Lt. Gov. Brad Owen would serve until the new chief executive is selected.
Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.