BREAKING NEWS: Washington state Democrats will finance a statewide hand recount, AP reports

Democrats will finance a statewide hand recount, AP reports

By David Ammons
The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Democrats, hoping the third time's the charm, will pay for yet another recount in the state's ultra-close governor's race that remains unsettled after more than a month.

The party also is heading to the state Supreme Court to seek a ruling that all ballots be treated the same from county to county.

Top-ranking Democratic sources said the party has raised the necessary $700,000-plus to recount all 2.9 million votes cast for governor on Nov. 2 — not just votes in selected counties. A flood of online contributions put the party over the top, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Party leaders, including the state chairman and the three most recent Democratic governors, scheduled a news conference to announce the development.

The party's nominee, three-term Attorney General Christine Gregoire, had told party leaders she was prepared to give up her quest for the governor's mansion if only a partial recount were ordered. "No games," she said.

The hand count is expected to cost the party over $1 million, including legal costs, and leaders said it was a backbreaking job to raise that kind of money in just a week.

Secretary of State Sam Reed is expected to order the new count on Monday and most counties are expected to begin the laborious job Wednesday. Reed said the count should be completed by Dec. 23 unless there are legal challenges.

Gregoire, 57, best known for her successful battle with the tobacco industry, trailed Republican Dino Rossi, 45, a former state Senate budget chairman, by just 42 votes after a machine recount was certified earlier this week. Rossi won the initial vote count by 261 ballots, a margin so close it triggered the mandatory machine recount.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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