I'm all for a "mulligan" or a do-over or whatever the Democrats derisively claim Dino Rossi is calling for. If there's a revote, maybe the Dems will put up a real candidate this time! How about popular Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee? Sheesh, anybody but Gregoire, who completely blew the campaign--and is now, despite the conventional wisdom that she's been a badass during the re-count, acting like a typical Democratic wimp.

Exhibit A: Why won't she call on Rossi to concede? If Gregoire deserves to be Washington's governor (which she now claims to be), and if she cherishes the sanctity of our system (which she's been extolling ever since she won the last re-count by 129 votes), she should be outraged that Rossi is thumbing his nose at the election process, and at a Washington State Supreme Court decision to boot. She should demand that he concede, rather than allowing him the breathing room to frame the debate with his calls for a revote.

Gregoire is behaving like a typical Democrat, issuing cowardly quotes like the one she gave the New York Times on Dec. 31: "It's up to Senator Rossi when and if he will [concede]." When and if?!? Christ, Christine, if you think you're governor of Washington, then act like the governor of Washington.

Governor-elect Gregoire should respond with force, because Rossi's current strategy openly mocks the system. He's disregarding the electoral process, the will of the Washington State Supreme Court, the secretary of state (a Republican), and county canvassing boards across this (mostly red) state. Basically, Rossi's initiated a PR war in an attempt to instigate some sort of "people's" coup to intimidate lawmakers and overrun the legal process. (Rossi's Internet petition for a revote has already netted 10,000 signatures.) This is the politics of mob rule, and no governor, especially a Democrat in the "Ohio, Florida" era, should play the "gracious" card like Gregoire's been doing. It gives Republicans like the charismatic Rossi room to go on the offensive.

Case in point: At his December 30 press conference in Bellevue, Rossi introduced U.S. Marine Tyler Farmer's family to the cameras (and, he noted pointedly, "to Ms. Gregoire" as well). Farmer, who was wounded in Falluja, didn't get his absentee ballot in time to vote. Rossi's stunt came just an hour before Gregoire held her governor-elect press conference in Olympia.

Rossi is juxtaposing Farmer against Democratic King County Council Member Larry Phillips, whose earlier complaint that his vote didn't count helped widen Gregoire's winning margin from 10 to 129. "Because he's Larry Phillips he got his vote counted? What about my son?" Tyler's father Charles asked.

I'll tell you why Phillips' vote was counted and Farmer's wasn't: Because Phillips voted (his vote was incorrectly misplaced in the first two counts, and then the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Phillips was disenfranchised). Farmer didn't vote (i.e., his vote never existed). Those are the rules. If we're going to throw away the rules, then democracy is worthless. Isn't Farmer in Iraq fighting for democracy?

With Rossi's campaign--which, in an earlier incarnation, sued to stop King County from tallying the votes of disenfranchised voters like Phillips--suddenly clamoring to count 'em all, I couldn't help but notice the sign hanging in Rossi's Bellevue headquarters. It reads sarcastically: "Any new ballots today?" The sign was obviously written during a pre-Tyler Farmer moment when Rossi was sending letters to Gregoire asking her to concede, and Rossi's transition team manager, J. Vander Stoep, was holding press conferences saying it was time "to stop counting ballots" and "focus on governing Washington State."

Rossi's hypocrisy is appalling. If Rossi thinks the whole election is illegitimate because Farmer didn't get a chance to vote, then wasn't that also the case back when Rossi himself was claiming the mantle of governor-elect? Why was Rossi so glib about disenfranchised voters back then?

But it's not Rossi's hypocrisy that galls me most. It's Gregoire's: She's busy extolling the virtues of our system while failing to defend it. If Gregoire doesn't have the guts to call bullshit on Rossi and tell this blowhard to concede, then she doesn't deserve to hold the highest office in Washington. And so I support a mulligan--but only if the Democrats run a real D this time around; someone with the courage to stand up for the rule of law. And to Dino Rossi.

josh@thestranger.com

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