Saturday, October 04, 2008

Washington Governor's Race Likely Hangs On Strong Obama Vote

Christine Gregoire became the Governor of Washington state in 2004 after just a bare 129 vote win after three recounts producing different results by machine and by hand and a discovered box of ballots from the Seattle area that had been lost that was left out of the first machine count on election night. A later Republican Party lawsuit aimed at overturning the election produced four letters by felons who claimed that they voted for Republican Dino Rossi, so the judge removed these four votes from Rossi, but did not invalidate the election.

This year, the drama looks almost as thick once again. Once again Governor Gregoire is facing a virtually tied race with Rossi, where some polls have Rossi up by two points, some have Gregoire up by two points, or have both dead even.

In polls, Senator Obama may lead from 9-13 points, but so far his coattails haven't helped her as much as she really needs. She is indeed the one rare case where a Democratic governor incumbent may be in serious political trouble.

In four years, Gregoire's approval rating hardly ever exceeded the 48-50% mark. And some of her tax proposals such as a gas tax to repair Washington roads have not been popular with the voters. It has probably been little issues like this more than anything that have made Gregoire a personality that has not been pleasing to most in Washington, even though it is a very "blue" state.

This is one critical race that may be decided the strength of the Obama vote. Only a strong Obama win may be enough to save this Democratic governor who has just never been quite able to seal the deal with many voters in her state. Of any governors race this year, the Washington one is the one to watch. The Democratic Party needs to turn out a strong Obama vote and have few defections to Rossi to pull this one out or else lose. This is once again another cliffhanger.


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