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Wash. gov. elect looks ahead to inauguration

Democratic Gov.-elect Christine Gregoire’s Republican rival still wants to overturn the election, but now that she’s been certified as the winner, she says she's looking ahead to the inauguration.
Christine Gregoire, left, smiles as Gov. Gary Locke introduces her at a news conference after a third recount made her the winner. John Froschauer / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Democratic Gov.-elect Christine Gregoire’s Republican rival still wants to overturn the election, but now that she’s been certified as the winner, she says she has other things on her mind.

Like forming a new government in less than two weeks.

If all goes according to plan — and little has so far in this topsy-turvy governor’s race — she’ll be inaugurated as Washington’s 22nd governor on Jan. 12.

The longest, closest governor’s race in Washington history, still not completely over, has created the shortest transition.

“Less than two weeks from today I WILL take the oath of office as your next governor of the great state of Washington,” an ebullient Gregoire declared Thursday in a Capitol victory speech just hours after she was certified as governor-elect by the secretary of state.

That marked the conclusion of three vote tallies and 58 days of waiting. The margin of victory: a mere 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.

Rossi still fighting
But Republican Dino Rossi, who won the first two counts narrowly, was still in fighting mode, believing irregularities or even fraud may have unfairly swung the final count.

A former state legislative leader and real estate agent, Rossi has refused to concede and has called for a new election. He also was exploring whether to contest the election in the courts or in the Legislature.

“I think we need to examine what’s right and what’s wrong and let’s expose it and see if we can correct it,” he said from his campaign office.

In rapid succession Thursday, Gregoire, a three-term attorney general, held her first news conference as governor-elect, toured the governor’s office suite with her family, and received a State Patrol bodyguard and access to new transition offices and about $100,000 to cover startup costs. She said she’ll have her first cabinet appointments ready to announce within a week.

“We’re off and running!” she said in an interview. “This is the shortest transition ever — less than two weeks. We’ve got to hurry. We will do the people’s business.”

Gregoire has had a transition team in place for weeks, hoping she’d eventually prevail in what she called “an election night without end.”

On Thursday, the day after King County released a list of nearly 900,000 voters who cast ballots Nov. 2, Republicans demanded to know why the list appeared to have about 3,500 fewer names than the number of tallied votes.

Election officials in the state’s largest county — a Democratic stronghold — replied that the list was preliminary, noting that records of voters who cast certain write-in ballots and people who wanted their addresses kept confidential still had to be reconciled with election data.

Gregoire congratulated Rossi for running a strong campaign, and said it was up to him to decide when and where to concede. But she ruled out a brand new election.

“Do-overs” only occur in golf, and only during practice, she said. “This is not golf and this is not practice.”
A legal challenge would have to be filed by Jan. 22, 10 days after Gregoire’s scheduled inauguration.