May 18, 2005


The Monkey Wrench Trial: Dino Rossi's challenge of the 2004 election is on shaky legal ground. But if he prevails, watch litigation become an option in close races everywhere. (George Howland Jr, Seattle Weekly)

The political trial of our new century begins on Monday, May 23, in Wenatchee, the seat of Chelan County, a small city of about 28,000 known for apple orchards and Republicans. It's nearly the geographical center of the state, and while everyone knows the stakes are high for Washingtonians, Wenatchee also will be the center of attention for politicos nationwide. If the GOP successfully overturns an election of a Democratic governor in court, litigation will become a monkey wrench in campaign toolboxes everywhere.

Republicans and their losing 2004 gubernatorial candidate, former state Sen. Dino Rossi of Sammamish, want Chelan County Superior Court Judge John E. Bridges to nullify the 129-vote, hand- recount victory of Gov. Christine Gregoire, who took office in January. The Republicans want a new vote next November. Aside from possibly forcing an unprecedented off-year gubernatorial election, a Rossi win in court and at the polls would bring a very different set of priorities to state government: business, business, business, and conservative Christianity—in roughly that order. If Rossi loses, either in court or at the polls again, Gregoire would continue in her role as a moderate Democrat who favors targeted tax increases—on sin, gasoline, and the estates of the wealthy, for example—to invest in education, social services, and transportation. It's kind of like the difference between George W. Bush and John Kerry. This trial's outcome will touch every Washington resident.

Election systems are far from perfect anywhere. So a reversal of the outcome here is certain to encourage political operatives elsewhere, too, to swoop in when a margin of victory seems to be less than a margin of error. In that world, expect more legal challenges and fewer concession speeches. Conservative writer John Fund of The Wall Street Journal's calls this "the margin of litigation."

If the other party controls a state and you can't beat them by enough to prevent their stealing the election then you ought to wait 'til next time, not go to court.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 18, 2005 7:24 PM

The shrillness of such articles like this one has increased as the trial approached, which is a sure indication that some people do not want their electoral practices brought out into the open.The Dems don't "control" this state, and that's what scares them. They are afraid this is their only shot at power, and like all good Leftists, (and like their compatriots to our north) will do anything to hold on to that power.

If, come the November special election, the people of this state want to finally elect Gov. Pro Tem Gregoire for real after she's already broken most of her campaign promises in the first few months as caretaker, then so be it. But the corruption that got her there must be exposed and either dealt with, or certain people should just shut up about horribile corruption in government is.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 18, 2005 7:34 PM

So do you think we should just do away with laws regarding election challenges, or just ignore them?

Posted by: Timothy at May 18, 2005 7:34 PM

It's a political matter and shouldn't be justiciable.

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2005 7:38 PM

Perhaps I could agree with you if they didn't also control the news media. The ultra-liberal P-I and the liberal Seattle Times tend to avoid or minimize negative images of the democrat's misdeads and the top talk radio station in Seattle is also liberal. If it wasn't for Stefan Sharkansky at SoundPolitics this whole thing would have been buried and there would be no pressure to at least reform the system. If we could at least get reforms passed, I could live with waiting for Rossi to unseat Cantwell in the Senate, but since the legislature undercut election reform this seems like the only option.

Posted by: Pat H at May 18, 2005 8:00 PM

Raoul: Hear, here.

OJ: I don't think election fraud is merely a "political matter." It's a criminal matter, and people "elected" due to the crime of election fraud should be tossed from office.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 18, 2005 9:12 PM


It's like scuffing the baseball.

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2005 9:27 PM

watch litigation become an option in close races everywhere.


Posted by: kevin whited at May 18, 2005 9:31 PM

It's a political matter, yes. And how do we decide political matters? Through elections. And if the elections are rigged? Then it becomes a political matter. And how do we decide political matters? Through elections. And if the elections are rigged? Then...

Catch 22.

Posted by: Noel at May 19, 2005 12:23 AM need to win by more than a handful of votes.

Posted by: oj at May 19, 2005 12:26 AM

Who says they only stole a handful?

Besides, having courts defend actual existing rights instead of inventing new ones would be an interesting novelty.

Posted by: Noel at May 19, 2005 12:39 AM

They stole so many only a handfull were left.

Posted by: andy at May 19, 2005 12:42 AM

Rossi says so, for one.

Posted by: oj at May 19, 2005 12:42 AM

Wrong again on this one OJ. Go Rossi ... even if you lose.

Posted by: Genecis at May 19, 2005 11:07 AM

I agree that it shouldn't be "justicable." It should go through a review board similar to the North Carolina system. It could also go through the legislature (though that would significantly hose Rossi in this case). But the way the laws are written here, it goes through the courts. Are you saying that it would be ok to contest if the laws were written differently, but because they're not, we should sit this one out?

Posted by: Timothy at May 19, 2005 11:40 AM


Yes, allowing legislatures to decide is a reasonable option.

Posted by: oj at May 19, 2005 12:06 PM

Note that the legislature had the constitutional power, but iwrote the law(s) to pass it off to someone else.

And corruption is corruption, and the idea that electoral corruption, like union thuggery and violence, has some sort of immunity, is incompatible within a nation governed by the rule of law.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 19, 2005 2:24 PM

Orrin (and the rest of you) may want to read an article in today's Seattle Times. The King County supervisor of absentee ballots, Nicole Way, has admitted in a deposition that she filed a false report -- in collaboration with her supervisor.

The two couldn't make the numbers of voters and ballots reconcile, so they just invented some to make the two match.

And this morning, a local lefty talk show host, Alan Prell has been calling this fraud and predicting that there will be a new election.

(The article is by Keith Ervin, if you want to read it.)

Posted by: Jim MIller at May 19, 2005 2:33 PM

You mean this one — Election manager linked to false report.

It's a subject that I guarantee you that The Seattle Weekly will ignore as long as possible, and probably find some way to blame on the Evil Republicans if or when they ever do.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 19, 2005 8:03 PM