Nov. 2: Election Day. Three-term Attorney General Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, finds herself in a tight race with former state Sen. Dino Rossi, a Republican. With Gregoire ahead by...
Three-term Attorney General Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, finds herself in a tight race with former state Sen. Dino Rossi, a Republican. With Gregoire ahead by just a few thousand votes — and hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots left to count — the race is far too close to call.
With all counties reporting, Rossi wins by 261 votes. State law triggers a machine recount.
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“My experience is … if you’re within a few hundred votes, we still don’t know who is going to win the race because that many votes can easily shift,” Secretary of State Sam Reed says.
“Making history isn’t easy,” Rossi says. “It certainly isn’t timely either.”
Rossi wins the machine recount, but his lead falls to 42 votes.
Rossi’s campaign declares victory. Gregoire declines to concede and Democrats hint at requesting another recount.
“Some people have suggested that Senator Rossi and I stage a duel or flip a coin to break this tie,” Gregoire says. “But I prefer to count every vote.”
Democrats declare they will seek an unprecedented statewide hand recount of the 2.9 million ballots cast in the governor’s race.
Democrat-leaning King County announces it has discovered more than 500 ballots that were mistakenly rejected during the initial count. By the end of the week the number tops 700. A few days later, Republicans sue to block King County from reconsidering the ballots.
“It’s either gross incompetence or vote fraud,” says state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance.
Democrats, in a release, call Rossi the “accidental governor-elect” and a “thief” trying to steal the election.
The state Supreme Court unanimously rejects the Democratic Party’s lawsuit to force counties to reconsider about 3,000 invalidated ballots. Republicans warn that Democrats may try to get the state Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, to decide the election.
“I would be very, very careful here,” Democratic state Sen. Adam Kline says. “No matter how thoughtful and surgically precise we approached this, if we were seen publicly as trying to steal an election, the ill will we would invite would be worse than four years of Dino Rossi.”
King County is last to complete its hand recount; unofficial results tip the race to Gregoire, giving her a 10-vote lead. After the Supreme Court rules King County can reconsider the 700-plus mistakenly rejected ballots, Gregoire’s lead grows to 129.
Gregoire says the state’s election system has proven itself a “model to the rest of the nation. … This is the biggest display of democracy I have ever seen.”
“It’s a total sham,” says Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane. “If Chris Gregoire thinks democracy was well served by this, she’s out of her mind. It hasn’t been fair. It hasn’t been consistent. It hasn’t been democratic.”
Calling the election a “total mess,” Rossi sends a letter to Gregoire, asking her to join him in calling for a new election.
“A revote would be the best solution for the people of our state and would give us a legitimate governorship,” Rossi writes.
“This ain’t golf,” says Gregoire spokesman Morton Brilliant. “No mulligans allowed here, folks.”
Reed certifies the election, declaring Gregoire governor-elect.
“Nothing that I have been informed about rises to the level of fraud,” Reed says. “There have been human errors. There have been mistakes.”