Tuesday, June 07, 2005

This Just In . . .

Christine Gregoire is Governor of Washington.

After seven months of relentless public bloviating and serpentine legal maneuvering by our local Republicans, Judge Bridges of Wenatchee County has dismissed the State GOP challenge of the election, and soon following, candidate Dino Rossi conceded the election with only a quarter of Gregoire's term completed. Rossi and the State GOP surprised many by chosing not to pursue the case to a higher court, but I think this was primarily because Judge Bridges laid a mighty smackdown upon the Republican's case, dismissing in its entirety and "with prejudice".

I really don't know what stronger terms he could use - if he had dismissed it "with extreme prejudice", he would have had to launch himself from the bench and physically beat the GOP lawyers about the head and shoulders with his little gavel. He ticked off the Republican charges and in turn, showed them without merit from the evidence presented in court.

Mind you, the case was in Wenatchee in the first place because the State GOP went shopping for a friendly venue. Further, the judge admitted all the forms of shakey evidence that the state GOP wanted in, allowing them to present their "proportional theories" of cherry-picked data. And the judge telegraphed from the start what he expected to be presented as clear evidence (he did not go as far as to say "This will be on the Final Exam", but he should have). And even with all this, the GOP could not make its case. They cried "fraud" long and loud, but when it came time to put the data on the table, they had nothing, and the Judge knew it.

There was no smoking gun, nor even a damp squib. The GOP's lawyers not only did not pull back the curtain to reveal the Great and Powerful Oz, they couldn't even find the curtain, and instead took on the appearance of a chimeric combination of Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion, wandering the streets of the Emerald City and accusing random bureaucrats of being the Wizard.

The Democrats, for their part, did their homework, possibly in part because they didn't spend all their time on talk radio predicting victory. The Judge did disallow a handful of votes which the Dems showed were illegally cast by felons - four of them for Rossi. This was the court's way of saying "see, this is how you make a case". And probably the finest moment for the Dems was reading into the record a quote from the GOP Chairman Chris Vance, declaring how fair and honest he thought the King County elections were (mind you, this was when Rossi was ahead, and he was pressuring Gregoire to admit defeat - since then, Vance has been the go-to guy for poisonous accusations).

Not that the Dems should get off scot-free (though wiping the sweat from the brows is perfectly understandable at this point). While the King County did OK, there are still holes in the system which we can plug (and in part is being pushed by our Secretary of State). While the system worked much better than other parts of our great country (such as, oh, say, Ohio, where the political stench is just getting worse over time), we could tune things up better. And by "we" I mean everybody, because both sane Republicans and Democrats benefit from fair elections.

Now the State GOP and its hate-talk allies are in fallback mode - it was never about the Governorship, it was about exposing all the problems in King County's election board (and blaming it on County Executive Ron Sims, who, surprise surprise, is coming up for re-election). The judge was obviously partisan by demanding facts. And while Rossi could have given a proper congratulations to the Dems in a "The people have spoken, and the court has confirmed" speech, instead told everyone that he was abandoning the chase only because he didn't think he'd get a fair trial at the Supreme Court level (as opposed to before a judge in a Republican county). At that point Mr. Rossi lost me - that was tooth-grindingly tactless and wrong, but very much in the standard playbook of baseless accusation.

Now here's the interesting thing - the Washington State election Challenge has been a caus celeb not only within our borders, but nationwide, and the National Republicans have raised money based on those "evil, evil Democrats" who believe in these radical concepts like "counting votes" and "not rolling over". And I can only assume they have had some success in fundraising. The question is - where did the money go? Because they definitely didn't use it for their legal team.

Maybe they invested it in collectible coins and beanie babies.

More later,