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Judge Rejects Gop Bid For New Vote

Courts had no place deciding outcome

Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges has rejected a Republican Party bid to overturn the 2004 governor's race.

On Monday, after a two-week trial in Wenatchee, Judge Bridges denied the call for a new election by attorneys representing the state's Republican Party.

Democratic Party candidate Christine Gregoire, a former state attorney general, won the governor's race after a hand recount gave her a 129-vote margin over Republican Party candidate Dino Rossi, a former State Senator. Rossi and the Republicans wanted the courts to set aside the 2004 election and order a new one based on allegations that the 2004 election was marred by election errors, including "illegal voters" and "fraud."

The judge conceded there were flaws in the election process, but noted that the courts had no place in deciding the outcome of an election.

"Unless an election is clearly invalid, when the people have spoken, their verdict should not be disturbed by the courts," Bridges stated in his decision. "This court is not in the position to fix the deficiencies in the election profess."

Following the ruling, Rossi decided there would be no appeal of the judge's decision in the case to the Washington Supreme Court.

"I am ending the election contest," Rossi said in a Monday night statement from his Bellevue headquarters.

Rossi said he wished Gov. Gregoire well.

"It is important to the state of Washington that she is successful in implementing her campaign promises," Rossi said.

State Rep. Bruce Chandler (R.-Granger), who represents Klickitat County in the Washington Legislature, said he was disappointed in the judges ruling.

"The standard of evidence is so high it's nearly impossible to have adequate accountability," Chandler said. "I'm concerned that a significant number of voters will become disillusioned with the prospect of having a credible election."

Chandler added that he wants Rossi to run again.

"Hopefully he'll run for governor again and be more successful next time," Chandler said. "I think he's a dynamic and visionary leader, and I hope he stays engaged and runs next time."

In Olympia, Gov. Gregoire released a statement saying she was glad the election contest had ended.

"I think the cloud is over and I think it's time for Washington state to move on and to make sure we get this behind us," Gregoire said. "We don't have to be the attention of the nation about an election that took place six months ago."

There were 2.9 million votes cast in the statewide race. Gregoire's victory is considered to be the closest margin for any governor's race in the history of the United States.

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