Seven months after the election, my home sweet home of Washington may finally have a governor! Those who closely follow Emerald State politics--and really, who doesn't, given our massive national influence--will remember that real estate entrepreneur turned state senator Dino Rossi, a Republican, was running against Christine Gregoire, the state attorney general who helped negotiate the $206 billion Big Tobacco settlement. Gregoire, an old hand in Olympia, was expected to win easily. Her win, though, has been anything but.
In the first count, Rossi won by 261 votes. A machine recount then put his lead at 42. This was followed by a hand recount, where Gregoire won by 129 votes, the smallest lead, percentage-wise, of any governor in history. Just before Gregoire was inaugurated, Rossi sued to nullify her victory.
A two-week trial ensued, where Republicans claimed intentional errors, illegal voters and fraud, and the Democrats said those errors were commonplace mistakes. Today, the judge declared the Republicans' suit invalid, and upheld Gregoire's appointment. Not wanting the drama to end, the Republicans will appeal to state Supreme Court.
The recounts, the charges of electoral fraud--it all seems very Tammany Hall. Now if Gregoire would start puffing chewed-off cigars and drinking moonshine (and, um, if she were Irish and it was 1920), we could really get back in the swing of old-school Democratic government. Gregoire's agenda of protecting the environment and bolstering education is a touch less racy. One item to watch: businesses are still asking how she'll handle Washington's faltering economy, an issue she hasn't fully addressed yet.