Protesters turn out for, against Gregoire certification
Press and KING Staff Reports
The vote to delay failed on a 65-80 vote, with 80 members of the 147-member Legislature opposing the action.
Gregoire will be sworn in Wednesday at the state Capitol even as a Republican court challenge is pending.
After three counts of 2.9 million ballots, Gregoire defeated Republican opponent Dino Rossi by 129 votes on a hand recount.
Republicans say there were enough problems with ballots to change the outcome of the race and Rossi, who wants a re-vote, filed a lawsuit challenging the results. A court hearing was set for Friday in Wenatchee.
The legislature's vote happened as hundreds of chanting partisans staged dueling protest rallies at the Capitol, many demanding a revote in the state's closest governor's race in history.
Police estimated more than 1,000 protesters massed on the Capitol lawn. A no-man's zone staffed by at least a dozen state troopers kept a larger pro-revote crowd separate from a pack of Democrat Christine Gregoire's backers.
An unidentified protester was among many who showed up in Olympia Tuesday calling for a new election to be held in the governor's race.
Cries of "revote" and "revote or revolt" rang out as lawmakers inside the Capitol debated a GOP motion -- later defeated -- to delay certification of the governor's election for two weeks while the courts and lawmakers deal with reports of voting irregularities.
A similar move by Senate Republicans failed by a single vote on Monday, the opening day of the new 15-week legislative session.
The pro-revote crowd was decked out in orange attire popularized by protesters in Ukraine. One speaker after another demanded a revote of Gregoire's ultra-close contest with Republican Dino Rossi.
"If it's good enough for Ukraine, it's good enough for us," one speaker yelled.
"The crowd took up the chant, "The whole world is watching!" The pro-Gregoire contingent didn't have microphones or a list of speakers, but hoisted signs and yelled their replies to nearly every Rossi rally speech or taunt.
When the Rossi crowd yelled "Revote!" the Gregoire people retorted "We won!" A Rossi sign read, "Gregoire: You're fired," a la "The Apprentice" TV show. A pro-Gregoire sign said "Sore loser."
The 1996 GOP candidate for governor, radio talk show host John Carlson, said the noisy opening week rallies reflected the public's desire to be heard on this unprecedented election and aftermath.
The session opened Monday on a sharply partisan note as the still-unsettled governor's race spilled over into the Legislature in a prelude to an all-out court battle.
Majority Senate Democrats rallied around their embattled governor-elect, Christine Gregoire, refusing to let Republicans delay certification of her election. Gregoire won the third vote count - a hand recount - by just 129 votes out of 2.9 million ballots cast. It was the narrowest margin in state history.
Minority House Republicans planned the same gambit Tuesday - with the same outcome expected - during a joint House-Senate session just before lame-duck Gov. Gary Locke was set to give his final State of the State Address.
Demonstrator for and against the certification of Christine Gregoire as the state's next governor showed up on the Capitol lawn Tuesday as debate went on inside.
Gregoire will be inaugurated on Wednesday, even though Republican rival Dino Rossi and the state Republican Party are challenging the election in court, seeking a statewide revote.
Republicans said the gubernatorial election was riddled with errors serious enough to undermine voter confidence and to throw the outcome in doubt.
Monday's flare-up provided an unusual start for the 15-week session. The day typically is devoted to bland speeches, swearing in members and electing the majority's pick for officers.
In the Senate, maverick conservative Tim Sheldon was the only Democrat to vote with the solid bloc of Republicans on the two-week delay motion. Sheldon supported both Rossi and President Bush in the fall election.
Minority Leader Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, R-Kirkland, led the charge.
"Every day more issues come to light and more rumors abound," with reports of dead people and felons voting, lists of votes not matching voter lists, and hundreds of provisional ballots illegally run through voting machines, he said.
He conceded that suspending the election certification for even a few weeks would be "a monumental step that has never taken place in our state's history." But he said it's warranted.
Democrats urged the Legislature to butt out and let the court challenge proceed. Senate Judiciary Chairman Adam Kline, D-Seattle, said it would "stop the cogs of government" and greatly hurt Gregoire if she has to delay taking office.
"There is a time for partisanship and politics and there is a time for governing," said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. "We are a state that is governed by constitution and laws, not by chanting crowds, rumor of the day or, frankly, making it up as we go along."
The Legislature's best route would be to pass a strong election reform package, said Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, chairman of the panel that will consider such legislation.
Gregoire Jan. 11 statement
I am honored to be Washington's new Governor. I look forward to Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony and my chance to address the people of our state and, of course, I especially look forward to the inaugural ball.
I want to thank the Legislature for its vote of confidence in my election.
I know that the closeness of this election has stirred strong emotions. But I strongly believe that we owe it to the people of Washington to get on with the business of the state. We have many challenges ahead of us as a state and we need to move ahead with finding solutions.
One of those challenges will be to improve the state's election process
and I am committed to working with Secretary of State Sam Reed as
well as Democrats and Republicans to make necessary changes.
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