- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2004

Agonizingly close

The closest governor’s race in Washington state history was forced into a recount yesterday as counties finished tallying the ballots and found only a few votes separating the candidates out of 2.8 million cast.

Former State Sen. Dino Rossi, a Republican, held a mere 261-vote lead over Democratic Attorney General Christine Gregoire after all counties reported their final tallies to the state. A recount is required by state law when there is less than a 2,000-vote margin.

“Making history isn’t easy,” Mr. Rossi said, smiling widely as he spoke to reporters outside his campaign headquarters last night. He thanked his wife, children and other family members, joking: “I’ve got a lot of relatives — probably about 261.”

Yesterday was the deadline for counting the ballots.

The recount means Washington voters will have to wait until next Wednesday to find out who their next governor is — a stunning scenario considering political pundits never thought it would be close. Mrs. Gregoire was considered the favorite.

“We really aren’t going to know before we do this recount who the governor is going to be,” said Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican who will oversee the recount process. “I feel sorry for Attorney General Gregoire and Senator Rossi.”

Washington is one of two states (the other being Alaska) that allow voters to mail ballots on Election Day, so votes have trickled in at an agonizingly slow pace.

Too loyal

The New York Times groaned yesterday over President Bush’s nomination of Condoleezza Rice to be secretary of state.

“As secretary of state, Ms. Rice is going to be first and foremost a loyal servant of Mr. Bush’s agenda and worldview, and that does not bode well for those who were hoping for a more nuanced approach to American diplomacy,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“Much more worrisome is where the people around her and directly under her will be getting their marching orders. Stephen Hadley, who will become national security adviser after four years as Ms. Rice’s loyal second, has ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, as do other officials who have been mentioned for possible top jobs at the State Department. If Ms. Rice surrounds herself with ideologues who adopt Mr. Cheney’s my-way-or-the-highway attitude toward the rest of the world, she’ll be undermining herself and the United States’ national interests from Day 1.”

Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof echoed his newspaper’s editorial, writing yesterday: “A litmus test of foreign policy prospects will be whether John Bolton, a genial raptor among the doves at State, is promoted to be its deputy secretary. For liberals who have been wavering on whether to move to New Zealand, that would be a sign to head for the airport.”

Limbaugh’s case

Florida’s Supreme Court was asked yesterday to decide whether prosecutors violated Rush Limbaugh’s privacy rights when they seized his medical records without warning during an investigation into his use of painkillers.

The 4th District Court of Appeals asked the high court to consider whether patients should be notified before their medical records are seized or inspected.

Last month, the appeals court rejected the conservative radio commentator’s claim that his privacy rights trumped investigators’ power to seize his medical records. Mr. Limbaugh appealed, asking the appeals court to rehear his case or refer it to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court could decline to hear the case, which would allow the lower court’s decision to stand, the Associated Press reports.

Investigators seized Mr. Limbaugh’s medical records in November 2003 to see if he engaged in illegal “doctor shopping” — visiting several doctors to obtain duplicate prescriptions.

Mr. Limbaugh has said the investigation was motivated by political opportunism on the part of the Democratic state attorney, Barry Kirscher.

Reid’s choice

“It’s possible that the election of Harry Reid as Senate minority leader may prove more politically consequential than any of the Cabinet changes now grabbing the headlines,” David Frum writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Reid is a tough partisan, but he has shown himself surprisingly attuned to some of the culturally conservative themes that carried the day in 2004. He now has a big decision to make,” Mr. Frum writes.

“Because of the vastly greater privileges accorded to the minority in the U.S. Senate as opposed to the House, Reid now finds himself the most powerful Democrat in Washington. How will he use this power? Will he try to make deals with the majority to achieve practical Democratic ends, like Bob Dole in the late 1980s and early 1990s? Or will he seek to score symbolic points by obstructing the president, in the manner of Tom Daschle? It’s his call — a call that may decide whether the next two years achieve anything for the American people or whether they are governed by the interests of the next round of Democratic presidential candidates.”

The end is near

President Bush has kept his lead in New Mexico after the last county in the state to certify votes from the election completed its canvass Tuesday.

John Kerry picked up 206 votes in Dona Ana County, New Mexico’s second largest, while Mr. Bush garnered an additional 100, giving him a 6,047-vote lead statewide in an unofficial Associated Press tally. Results from the official count will be released next week.

In 2000, Al Gore beat Mr. Bush in New Mexico by 366 votes.

Dona Ana County’s review discovered 86 provisional votes missing, but they were found Tuesday in a private bathroom in a locked area that only staff members could enter.

Iowa’s final tally shows Mr. Bush defeated Mr. Kerry by 10,059 votes, the Des Moines Register reported yesterday.

Bias? What bias?

Tom Brokaw countered claims of liberal bias with how people on Manhattan’s West Side maintain the media’s ‘conservative bias’ has aided and abetted George W. Bush,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Appearing on Comedy Central’s ‘Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart on Tuesday night, Brokaw recalled how at an event he attended in Houston the night before, ‘there were a lot of questions about the liberal bias of the networks and mainstream media, and I said, “Come with me to New York and walk to the West Side and hear what they have to say about the conservative bias of what we’re doing.” We’re the ones who are responsible for the election of George Bush.’”

Mr. Brokaw quoted his interlocutors as saying, “Don’t you realize that he stole the election four years ago?” and “How could you allow him to invade Iraq the way that he did?”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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