OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Democrats will pay for a second recount in the state's unsettled governor's race, hoping it will erase the 42-vote margin held by Republican Dino Rossi (search).
The party also asked the state Supreme Court Friday to rule that all ballots be treated the same from county to county. That would mean considering some previously uncounted ballots, particularly in Democratic-leaning King County.
The party's nominee, three-term Attorney General Christine Gregoire (search), praised the decision to seek a statewide recount.
"We have a thoughtful system for counting every vote in Washington state, and over the next few weeks we will see it work," she said in a written statement. "It may take a few more weeks, but it will be worth it for four years of legitimacy."
Gregoire, 57, best known for her successful battle with the tobacco industry, trailed Rossi, 45, a former state senator, by just 42 votes after a machine recount was certified earlier this week. Rossi won the initial vote count by 261 ballots, a margin so close it triggered the mandatory machine recount.
Secretary of State Sam Reed (search) is expected to order the new count on Monday and most counties are expected to begin the laborious job Wednesday. Reed said the count should be completed by Dec. 23 unless there are legal challenges.
Rossi said he was outraged at the prospect of a third vote count and a legal battle.
"This really is sad and desperate," he said. "How much do they want to put the voters of Washington through? We were elected and certified twice. I have faith in voters; Christine Gregoire has faith in lawyers."
State Democratic Chairman Paul Berendt said the party gave the secretary of state's office a cashier's check for $730,000 to order a recount of all 2.9 million votes cast for governor on Nov. 2 — not just votes in selected counties. The money came in part from a flood of online contributions.
"We're going to count every vote in every county, whether it's a Rossi county or a Gregoire county," Berendt said.
The hand count is expected to cost the party more than $1 million, including legal costs.
Berendt also said Democrats would ask the Supreme Court to make sure ballots were treated the same throughout the state, referring to hundreds of questioned ballots, including provisional ballots and absentee votes, that were rejected by some counties.