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Friday, February 04, 2005  

News: Gov. Gregoire's life threatened

Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington got her job the hard way. She fought for it. After a very close election, and a close recount, Gregoire (pictured) requested and paid for another recount. It brought her victory by a margin of 129 votes. Some Republicans have been apoplectic since Gregoire took office in January. Their rhetoric is usually easily dismissed. A typical claim is that her opponent, former state senator and multimillionaire Dino Rossi, won the election because he prevailed in the first two counts. However, it is the third hand-tallied recount that determines the outcome under state law. The Republican candidate did much better than expected, but did not win the election. Still, the fallout has escalated. Recently, a disgruntled person was arrested and charged with threatening to kill Gov. Gregoire. The Seattle Times reports.

OLYMPIA — A Yakima County man was arrested on suspicion of making a death threat against Gov. Christine Gregoire and her family last month.

Gregoire said she had received threats in the wake of her hotly contested election victory, and that's why her office has declined to release details of her schedule.

The State Patrol also has continued around-the-clock protection for Gregoire's opponent, Republican Dino Rossi, because of security concerns.

Jeff Martelli, 47, of Wapato, was arrested Jan. 19 on suspicion threatening Gregoire and her daughters, said Megan Murphy, a Yakima County deputy prosecutor.

Murphy said Martelli was being treated at a mental-health clinic when he made the threat. A clinician reported the threat to the State Patrol, and he was arrested the next day. Martelli was released from jail this week after posting a $10,000 bail.

Threatening the governor or her family is a felony and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, Murphy said.

Though it is possible that Martelli might have threatened any public figure because of his mental health problems, I believe the ugly atmosphere created by some Republican activists played a role. They have taken to publicly denouncing Gov. Gregoire as having stolen the election. Some follow her from one public appearance to another, heckling and waving signs. Right Wing talk show hosts have made contempt for the governor a staple of their rhetoric. The uncouth response to Gov. Gregoire's victory may have attracted the attention of the suspect and led him to single her out. This episode is a reminder that actions have consequences. The consequence the irate Republicans want -- a reversal of the election results, preferably putting Rossi in the governor's seat -- is unlikely to happen. There is no evidence of fraud, the requirement to invalidate an election under state law. However, the activists have successfully created another consequence -- the hostile atmosphere that has led to death threats against an elected official and her children.

Reasonably related

How is Gov. Gregoire, death threats notwithstanding? She says she is adjusting to being governor and likes the job. Gov. Gregoire also discussed major issues the state is facing in an interview. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has the story.

3:45 PM