- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Washington Democrat Christine Gregoire was sworn in yesterday as governor over the objections of Republicans seeking a court-ordered revote after reports of widespread election irregularities.

Mrs. Gregoire, a three-term attorney general, asked Republicans to work with her, despite the uproar following the razor-thin November election results and subsequent charges of Election Day shenanigans.

“This is not an easy time to lead,” said Mrs. Gregoire in her inaugural address. “Many have asked how I can govern without a clear mandate from the voters. I believe the voters have given all of us a mandate — a mandate to overcome our differences and solve problems.”

Mrs. Gregoire edged her Republican foe, Dino Rossi, by 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast after two recounts. A former state senator, Mr. Rossi, who was leading narrowly on Election Day and after the first recount, filed a lawsuit Friday seeking a statewide revote.

Republicans cited reports of numerous election errors in King County, including votes cast by dead people and convicted felons, late military ballots, mishandled provisional ballots, and an Election Day mismatch that showed the county with 1,800 more ballots than registered voters.

In a joint legislative session Tuesday, Republican lawmakers fought to delay the inauguration for two weeks to allow time for the court challenge to proceed. Even so, the Democrat-controlled Legislature voted 80-65 in a party-line vote to certify the election results.

During yesterday’s inauguration, House Republicans signaled their disapproval by rising but refusing to applaud before Mrs. Gregoire’s swearing-in. The skirmish might also have cast a pall on Mrs. Gregoire’s celebration: About 1,000 tickets to her inaugural ball reportedly had gone unsold yesterday, as some Republicans had vowed to boycott the event.

Mrs. Gregoire responded to criticism about elections procedures by announcing a select commission on election reform to be headed by Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed and former Democratic floor leader Betti Sheldon.

Republican leaders predicted the swearing-in ceremony would have no impact on their election challenge. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for tomorrow at the Chelan County Superior Court.

This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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