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Wednesday, January 05, 2005  

Politics: Columnist critiques Gov. Gregoire

Washington Governor-elect Christine Gregoire should never have been in a contest so close that she was the winner by only 10 votes before a court ruling. She was in that position because she ran an inept campaign, failing to capitalize on the goodwill she had earned as a very effective attorney general. Ultimately, Gregoire (pictured) prevailed by a margin of 129 votes in an election in which 2.9 million ballots were cast.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly holds her accountable for that electoral close call.

Gregoire has a "predisposition to insulate herself," says a senior adviser who wishes to go unnamed.

The governor-elect is a longtime public servant, but has been immersed in such complexities as the Hanford cleanup and states' lawsuit against tobacco companies.

She traveled our state last fall with what my colleague Angela Galloway wonderfully called a "political-bureaucracy-on-wheels."

Upon arrival in Kennewick, this included a campaign manager, deputy manager, spokesman, deputy spokesman, political director, two volunteers, one husband and a driver/security guard.

Gregoire was to lose Benton County (which includes Kennewick), 44,895 votes to 19,831, despite being architect of an accord that has kept more than 12,000 people employed at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Connelly believes Gregoire squandered her political capital by failing to engage in retail politicking and not trumpeting her achievements, including how they benefitted working-class voters such as the Hanford workers. She allowed multimillionaire Dino Rossi, who supports a national sales tax, and, elimination of the minimum wage, to garner votes from thousands of people who should have been in her column. Connelly compares Gregoire to Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who is available to squeeze the flesh or flesh out reasonable stances on political issues in exactly the way Gregoire has not been.

But not all of Connelly's column is a dressing down of the woman who is planning her attire for the inauguration. He has good advice regarding how Gregoire should conduct herself as Washington's chief executive.

A message to Gregoire as governor: Get out of Olympia, and listen to why citizens have come to view our state government as so cumbersome.

. . .Appointment of ex-state Agriculture Director Jim Jesernig as transition director did not signal new blood on the way in Olympia. Gregoire will have a complement of insiders. But our old-timey capital badly needs fresh people and ideas.

. . .Gregoire needs a top-notch political director, to boot her out of the capital and to deal with the state's deep divisions. The communications office must have a talent sorely missed in Gregoire's campaign -- the ability to use a telephone.

. . .As well, no matter where her victory margin came from, Gregoire must NOT be a pander bear to Seattle liberals. In 1993, Mike Lowry, dug his political grave by talking up new taxes early in his term. The liberals deserve a place at the table; they shouldn't get to eat the whole meal.

I suspect Connelly is telling Gregoire the things she really needs to know. Let's hope she heeds the advice of those in the know after such a humbling election.

Read the rest of Joel Connelly's column here.

Reasonably related

Is Christine Gregoire the Govenor-elect? Yes. There is a Republican effort afoot to try to challenge the election. But, absence proof of fraud, there is no legal basis for such a challenge. GOP activists are claiming the fact that all voters' names don't appear on the lists submitted by the counties means there were thousands of ghost voters. Election officials say that some voters' names are withheld to protect their privacy. People who moved recently and military personnel may also be missing from electoral rolls, though they voted. The final rolls will likely include most of the missing names.

6:00 PM