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Wednesday, November 10, 2004  

News: Got governor?

It is supposed to be over. The elections took place a week and a day ago. But, in the Pacific Northwest uncertainty lingers. Yesterday's headline at the Seattle Times read "King County absentees push Gregoire's lead to 8,700 votes." It appeared the Democratic candidate might shed light on the motif for the inauguration. Today's headline for The Mercury News said "Republican Pulls Ahead in Wash. Gov. Race." Now it appears that Dino Rossi may be ordering cocktail napkins featuring elephants. And, so it has gone since Tuesday. Each time a candidate seemed to have momentum, a new round of vote counting changed that perception.

Yesterday, Christine Gregoire was bolstered by an encouraging count of absentee ballots from urban King County, the Times reports.

OLYMPIA — The absentee-vote trend in King County bounced back in Democrat Christine Gregoire's favor yesterday, helping her extend her lead in the seesaw race for governor.

Gregoire, the state's three-term attorney general, now holds an 8,700-vote edge over Republican former state Sen. Dino Rossi.

She is likely to prevail in King County, where she established yesterday's lead, and about a half-dozen other metropolitan counties. The long-term Washington attorney general has a high degree of name recognition and is considered popular among that constituency. But, the absentee ballots from more rural areas, where the Republicans are more competitive, could end her hopes.

Republican candidates who did well nationally can credit George W. Bush's coattails and the surprising surge of opposition to gay marriage, expressed by voting for constitutional amendments in 11 states. Neither was able to sweep the GOP's candidate into the governor's mansion in Washington. Today, Rossi had something to smile about, a 2,000-3,000 vote lead over Gregoire.

The Mercury has the story.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Republican Dino Rossi has pulled ahead of Democrat Christine Gregoire in the Washington governor's race, and he boldly announced a transition team to prepare for his possible ascent to power.

The contest ended in a virtual dead heat on Election Day and has remained tight ever since as officials tally hundreds of thousands of mail ballots. Most Washington state residents cast ballots through the mail.

However, naming a transition team does seem a bit presumptuous. Rossi, a wealthy investor, may end up making a transition to whatever he plans to do if he is not governor. Even the complete count of absentee ballots may not be conclusive. Some observers expect the election to turn on provisional ballots -- those voted by persons who encountered problems at the polling place. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer agrees.

Both sides said the election apparently will be settled by the 80,000 or so voters who used provisional ballots, including about 30,000 in Democrat Christine Gregoire's stronghold, King County.

For the second day in a row, Rossi, the former state Senate budget chairman, maintained a slim advantage over Gregoire, the state attorney general, even as some of her best counties reported.

Rossi began the day with a pad of about 3,000 votes. As votes were announced by counties where he has led, Rossi pulled ahead with each new report, at one point leading by 7,259 votes.

Nationally, the contest will decide if there will be 22 governors who are Democrats or 29 who are Republicans.

You can stay abreast of the horse race at www.vote.wa.gov.

9:00 PM