Well, I suppose it’s close enough that we should wait for the recount. This post isn’t legally binding, so I’ll just go ahead.
Both Scott and I have issued strict warnings about shooting your mouth off about what a terrible candidate/campaign Kerry was/ran. These orders still stand–he was a pretty good candidate who ran a pretty good campaign, and blaming him for being a northeastern liberal elitist or a flip-flopper is doing the Republican’s work for them. The things that mattered (incumbency wartime president with a mixed bag economy) didn’t add up for Kerry.
A similar warning will not be issued for the Christine Gregoire. Feel free to trash her as a candidate and her campaign all you wish. It would be hard to be too uncharitable.
This race was hers on a silver platter. The state-level GOP hasn’t been remotely competitive. She was given a mildly less unreconstructed wingnut than Gary Locke got in 96 and 2000, but that’s about it. The state continues to trend Democratic at the local level, with a couple of pickups for the Democrats in local races. Rossi had virtually no name recognition outside of his district six months ago (whereas she is widely known). Gregoire had no coherent message, failed to showcase her best accomplishments as AG, and made no coherent effort to counter Rossi’s attacks. She started calling herself “Chris Gregoire” rather than the name she’s been known by her entire political career, Christine. Her media buys were bland and without impact. The belief that her AG career was defined by an early screw-up in which she missed a deadline, rather than her highly successful tobacco settlement.
I voted for Ron Sims in the primary, but I actually wanted Gregoire to win (I wanted a strong showing for Sims to show support for his sensible and long-overdue tax overhaul plan, but I thought Gregoire had a stronger chance in the general). Gregoire was more electable in some abstract sense, but that doesn’t mean much when you can’t put together a competent plan. If we were going to lose, we should have done it with Sims, who had stood for something, and would have put it to the state. I very much wish he had had the chance.