Four years ago of Washington's 39 counties just eight - Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Pacific, San Juan, Thurston, Whatcom - voted for Democrat Chris Gregoire for governor over Republican Dino Rossi. That race, as we all known, was a breathtaking photofinish.
This year's contest has the same two candidates but a different roster of counties, at least according to the partial results at the secretary of state's web site. The new rundown of Gregoire counties, as of today, is: Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Clark and one actually on the east side of the Cascades, Spokane - 16 counties, twice as many.
The race was, and is, still fairly close at 53.5% Gregoire to 46.5% Rossi - the lead was narrower early in the evening and not easily callable until about now (and this is posted about 1 a.m. Wednesday). But it's not as close as last time, and there really can't be any notion that funny business in the King County elections office decided it.
Eric Ealing at Sound Politics remarked of it, "Before I even got to that one, I saw Obama over 60% in the county. That's a very bad sign. It shows a tide to severe to swim against. Outperforming the national ticket by nearly 7% in that big batch of votes is very good. The starting point, however, is very tough to overcome." And all that was a major factor, no doubt.
But so were other considerations. Gregoire has been a fairly effective governor. She campaigned harder and more effectively this time than last. Rossi had the advantage, last time, of being a fresh, new figure; this time, as good as he was as a campaigner (and he was good), he was still the guy who lost last time. Not his fault, but there it is.
Yet to see: Finals in the state's other great grudge match of the year, in House District 8 . . .