First she stands you up. And then, when her other beaus decide to go with someone else, she comes running back. This tragic teen-pop-song scenario sounds a lot like Christine Gregoire's annoying relationship with King County. Gregoire all but ran from Seattle's liberal base during the election (taking us for granted). But oh, she'll do anything for our votes now! All 735 of them. And if she gets the votes or not (I'm writing this 24 hours before the Washington State Supreme Court hears her appeal), there will still be a big lesson for Democrats in the irony of Gregoire's new affection for King County.

Throughout the campaign, Gregoire decided she had to woo those suburban undecideds. She refused to be the type of candidate liberal King County voters dig: one who takes strong positions and stands up loudly for the Democratic base. Instead, she talked in generic sound bites about "jobs," kowtowed to the anti-tax crowd by running hit ads against Rossi for supporting the transportation gas tax, and fell far short on gay rights.

The centrist strategy failed. She lost in swing turf like Snohomish County (by 6,000 votes). And so much for catering to the red half of the state: Christine "Washington is not ready for gay marriage" Gregoire didn't win a single county east of the Cascades.

Now, she's turning to the one county, King, where she walloped her opponent by 154,000 votes and counting, literally. (At least she finally has a campaign theme and a sound bite--"Count Every Vote"--something her tepid, centrist campaign lacked prior to November 2).

Well, we're glad to help you, Christine, but damn if you don't owe us for keeping you alive. Not only did you rely on King County's trove of votes to get you out of your mess--but it took a plea by the über-liberal group MoveOn.org and Seattle's favorite lefty, Howard Dean, to scare up the money for your recount. In other words, despite being dissed, we kissed your ass. Well, you better recognize that it's time to kiss ours if you win. This means things like: Standing up to the legislature for viaduct funding, and not turning into pseudo-Republican Gary "No New Taxes" Locke during the budget crunch.

As this paper argued in our "Urban Archipelago" [Nov 11] essay, "Seattle shouldn't cast its lot with the rest of the state." Well, as this election proves, and as Gregoire's slobbering over King County votes proves: Neither should Dems. King County is all the Democrats really have. Gregoire took us for granted, and look what happened: 75,135 people who voted for John Kerry in King County did not vote for her. If she had scooped up just 135 of those votes, she would have won by a landslide compared to where it stands now.

If, thanks to King County, Gregoire does win, she'll surely be ridiculed by Republicans as "Governor of Seattle."

My advice: Don't run from that label. Embrace it. The way to retool and rejuvenate the Democratic Party is by milking the urban agenda, just like Gregoire's tried to milk its votes.

josh@thestranger.com

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