- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) — A judge yesterday upheld Democrat Christine Gregoire’s victory in last fall’s governor’s election, and defeated Republican Dino Rossi said he would not appeal — ending the legal fight over the closest gubernatorial race in U.S. history.

“With today’s decision, and because of the political makeup of the Washington state Supreme Court, which makes it almost impossible to overturn this ruling, I am ending the election contest,” Mr. Rossi said at his campaign headquarters in Bellevue.

A delighted Mrs. Gregoire told the Associated Press “it’s amazing that it’s over. I am personally relieved. … Now all that is over and we can just move on.”

Earlier in the day, she said she had burst into tears upon hearing of the judge’s ruling.

The election — decided by an amazingly narrow margin of 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast — included 1,678 illegally cast ballots, Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges found.

But in his ruling, Judge Bridges rejected Republican claims that the election was stolen through errors and fraud, and said Republicans had failed to prove that Mr. Rossi would have won had the illegal votes been disregarded.

“Unless an election is clearly invalid, when the people have spoken their verdict should not be disturbed by the courts,” Judge Bridges said.

Nullifying the election, he said, would be “the ultimate act of judicial egotism and judicial activism.”

The Republicans were hoping the judge would nullify the election and then either declare Rossi the winner outright or open the way for a new election in the fall.

Republicans had hoped the judge would nullify the election and then either declare Mr. Rossi the winner outright or open the way for a new election in the fall.

“I continue to believe that mounting this election challenge, and shining the lights on the various problems of our election system, was the right thing to do,” Mr. Rossi said at a late afternoon press conference.

He added: “I’d like to wish Christine Gregoire and her family all the best over the next 3 years.”

Mr. Rossi, a real estate agent and former state senator, was considered a long shot last November against Mrs. Gregoire, who was Washington’s attorney general.

Mr. Rossi won the first count by 261 votes, then watched his lead shrink to 42 in a machine recount. In a hand recount completed in late December, Mrs. Gregoire was pronounced the winner by 129 votes.

Five days before Mrs. Gregoire’s inauguration, Mr. Rossi sued to contest the election. Yesterday’s ruling came after a two-week trial that turned over flaws in election departments across the state.

Coming under special scrutiny was the Democratic stronghold of King County, which reported its hand-recount results last and where hundreds of ballots were found during the dispute by election offices in the Democrat-dominated county.

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