OLYMPIA, Wash. – Edged out of the closest governor's race in state history, Republican Dino Rossi (search) urged his opponent to accept a revote, saying the uncertainty surrounding the back-and-forth election was bad for the state. Democrat Christine Gregoire's (search) camp immediately rejected the idea as "irresponsible."
Rossi's request came hours before the Secretary of State was scheduled Thursday to certify Gregoire as the winner by a scant 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.
"This ain't golf. No mulligans allowed here, folks," said Gregoire's spokesman, Morton Brilliant. "It's irresponsible to spend $4 million in taxpayer money on a new election just because you don't like losing this one."
Rossi made the plea for a revote after eight weeks of confusion and three vote counts. A revote would have to be approved by the Democrat-controlled state Legislature.
"The uncertainty surrounding this election process isn't just bad for you and me — it is bad for the entire state," Rossi said, reading from a letter he said he sent to Gregoire. "People need to know for sure that the next governor actually won the election."
An unprecedented statewide hand recount — the third vote count — put Gregoire, a three-time attorney general, ahead for the first time, by just a tiny fraction of 1 percent.
Rossi, a real estate agent and former state senator, won the initial tally last month by 261 votes, triggering an automatic machine recount. He won that count, too, by 42 votes.
While noting that he could contest the election, Rossi said a legal challenge could drag on for months. The better way to clear up the mess, he said, would be to ask lawmakers to pass a bill calling for a special election as soon as the state Legislature convenes in early January for the 2005 session.
Asked what he would do if Gregoire rebuffed his request, Rossi said his campaign would take a close look at election data it has requested from King County and go from there. GOP leaders have spent the last several days weighing whether to proceed with contesting the results.
After the election, more than 700 ballots surfaced in the heavily Democratic county, which includes Seattle. The additional votes allowed Gregoire to stretch her lead from just 10 votes to her current triple-digit advantage. A legal challenge would have to be filed by Jan. 22, 10 days after Gregoire's scheduled inauguration.
Gov. Gary Locke said he strongly disagreed with Rossi's call for another election. "The people have voted, and all votes properly cast were counted," said Locke, a Democrat who's retiring after two terms.
Amid the weeks of uncertainty, both Gregoire and Rossi have maintained transition offices, appointing teams to work on a state budget, cabinet appointments and an agenda for the upcoming Legislature.
Rossi had been using the title "governor-elect," and his family even toured the Governor's Mansion.