Gov. Chris Gregoire exhorted a roomful of Democratic Party members this morning to help turn out voters for Tuesday’s primary election so she can build momentum for November.
So far, the rate of ballot returns is not good, Gregoire said — about 27 percent.
“No governor in America understands better than I do that every vote counts,” Gregoire told a crowd of more than 80 partisans who gathered in a meeting room at the IBEW Hall on South 36th Street.
Gregoire made it clear that she does not want a repeat of the 2004 election drama, which included two recounts, a court challenge and a razor-thin 133-vote victory over Dino Rossi. She said she wants this year’s race called at 8:10 p.m. on election night, with a landslide victory and no re-counts.
Gregoire did not mention Rossi by name, but spent much of her time countering claims that he is making in television ads on issues ranging from the state budget to gas taxes.
* She claimed she inherited a $2.2 billion budget deficit in 2005 and turned it into an $800 million surplus.
* She said Rossi removed 40,000 children from healthcare, but she added 84,000 children during her term as governor.
* She said she is trying to clean up Puget Sound, and the only opponent of her effort is the Building Industry Association of Washington, which supports Rossi.
* She said Rossi is still debating the science of global climate change, while she is working to add “green-collar” jobs to the economy.
* She touted her support for military veterans, noting that she has signed some 47 bills for veterans. “What have you ever done for veterans in the state of Washington?” Gregoire asked of Rossi (even though he was not present.)
* And she suggested that Rossi must be suffering for memory loss because of his TV attacks that blast her for raising the state’s gas tax. Rossi voted for a higher gas tax in 2003 when he was in the state Senate, she said, and voters agreed to raise the gas tax in 2005.
Gregoire also used the opportunity to stump for Barack Obama. She compared Obama’s wife, Michelle, to Jacqueline Kennedy, and said Obama will bring the kind of change to Washington D.C. that she has accomplished during the last four years.
U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair) and Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma warmed up the audience on what was already a warm day. Baarsma said Gregoire, a former director of the state Department of Ecology, played a key role in the cleanup of Tacoma’s polluted Foss Waterway.
Dicks, who has worked with seven governors during his political career, said, “I can tell you without reservation that Chris Gregoire is the hardest working, most effective and most true to her values governor that we’ve ever had.”
In Pierce County, Gregoire lost to Rossi by four percentage points in 2004, Dicks noted. “If we win it by 54 or 55 percent, she will be the next governor,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Many in the crowd were planning to spend part of the day ringing door bells for Democratic candidates.
Gregoire will be back in Pierce County tomorrow with a visit to the Puyallup Farmer’s Market, and again on Monday with a visit to a construction site at Tacoma General Hospital.
Rossi is in the Tri-Cities today, and will be in Spokane on Monday, his campaign spokeswoman said.