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Dino Rossi/The Washington Governor's race
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Old 01 Dec 2004, 12:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dino Rossi/The Washington Governor's race

Rossi declared Governor-elect, but a hand recount likely

By David Ammons
The Associated Press

OLYMPIA Republican Dino Rossi took up the mantle of governor-elect today, but an unprecedented third vote count could keep Rossi and Democratic rival Christine Gregoire guessing until almost Christmas or later.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, the state's chief elections officer, certified Rossi as the victor by a mere 42 votes. Reed called it the closest governor's race in U.S. history, with a margin of little more than a thousandth of 1 percentage point separating winner and loser.

Reed said Rossi's recount victory means he's legally the governor-elect. Rossi took up the title, no matter how short-lived. He told a victory news conference he's moving forward with selecting a cabinet and preparing plans to stir the anemic state economy.

He reached out to Democrats, particularly those who control both houses of the Legislature.

Rossi acknowledged his victory isn't assured, however, since Gregoire and the state Democratic Party are expected to demand a manual recount of all or part of the state on Friday.

He didn't use the word "concede," but made it clear he thinks Gregoire should drop her challenge. In an interview, Rossi said she and the Democrats "have to decide if they'll be looking at the best interest of the state of Washington and be gracious."

Rossi, 45, a former legislative power who rose from poverty to riches in real estate investments, told reporters Gregoire "ran a spirited campaign and she has to decide if she's going to go forward or not (with a recount).

"If you count and recount and recount and keep on counting until you finally win, what do you really have in the end? An illegitimate governorship, that's what you have in the end.

"It's time to move forward, that's the message."

Rossi planned a victory celebration in Bellevue tonight.

"It feels good. We're in the right spot," Rossi said in an interview. "It's the second time we've been validated as the winner. This is over."

When he returned a telephone call from a reporter, he identified himself as "the governor-elect" and gave a happy laugh.

Unlike Rossi's public display of triumph, Gregoire, 57, the state attorney general for the last 12 years, kept out of sight and worked on a recount strategy and her own transition efforts.

Gregoire rejected the notion that Rossi had won.

"Senator Rossi and I are both moving ahead with our transition plans, even though the election is undecided," she said in a statement released by her campaign. "It's still the wise thing to do. By going ahead with our transition plans, both candidates will be in a position to lead the state in January."

Her statement said the race remains too close to call, with what the campaign called "thousands of disputed ballots across the state."

Democrats were still mulling how extensive the manual recount should be. Spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said the campaign and the party would prefer a full statewide recount of all 6,686 precincts, but might not be able to afford the cost.

The state wants a 25-cent-per-voter deposit at the time the recount is demanded at least $700,000 for a statewide count.

Both Reed and outgoing Gov. Gary Locke advocated a full statewide recount, rather than "cherry-picking" selected counties. As it is, a manual recount will take until probably Dec. 23, Reed said. If Democrats recount only part of the state and it flips the election to Gregoire, state law mandates a full hand recount in the rest of the state.

That probably could be completed in time for inauguration on Jan. 12, but if either party goes to court, all bets are off, Reed said.

Reed said he has full confidence in the newly certified recount numbers.

"I would be comfortable calling the race (for Rossi) right now," he told a news conference. "I'm not sure what value there is to have another recount."

Brost said Democrats have identified potential irregularities in a number of Washington's 39 counties. Ideally, the whole state will be re-canvassed, but that might not be financially possible, she said.

Rossi disputed Democrats' plea of poverty. He said Republicans are "prepared to meet any option they come up with."
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First off congrats to Dino Rossi, who will be the first Republican governor of Washington in 20 years.

Secondly, what do you think of all absentee voting, like done in WA? Do you think it is an easier option for voters or do you think it's not worth it considering how long Rossi and Gregorie had to wait to see who won?
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