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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gregoire’s term begins amid controversy

The Spokesman-Review

When Washington’s 59th Legislature convened this week, it was accompanied by all the traditional pageantry. But the controversy over Gov. Christine Gregoire’s narrow election produced events unlike anything in the previous 58 sessions.

Republicans challenged the election in court and in the Capitol, and hundreds of demonstrators gathered noisily Tuesday on the Statehouse lawn to trade jeers and wave signs.

“All hail the election of Commissar Gregoire,” one Republican shouted.

A Democratic sign said: “It’s time to put a cork in the Red Whine.”

Gregoire was sworn in Wednesday. She vowed in her inaugural speech to build “a legacy of opportunity, prosperity and optimism,” to cut government red tape and help business grow.

She said she’ll work to reinforce the public’s faith in government, to pay teachers and state workers more, and to get health care for every child in Washington.

Among the other ideas she addressed: She said she’ll form a committee to propose election reforms and another to suggest efficiencies and “long-term funding solutions” for early education, schools and the state’s colleges. She said the state must give cost-of-living increases to teachers and must create more room for college students.

Republicans – whose candidate, Dino Rossi, lost the race by 129 votes – vowed to fight on. They’ve filed suit in Chelan County Superior Court, charging that election errors have so skewed the results of the race that there is no certain winner. They want a revote.

“None of us on the Republican side believe she’s the legitimate governor of the state of Washington,” Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, said.