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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- Washington

WA: Still Essentially Tied

A Strategic Vision poll tested 800 likely voters between 10/25-26 for a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. Governor Christine Gregoire was matched up against GOP ex-State Senator Dino Rossi.

General Election Matchup
Gregoire.......49 (+3 from last, 9/16)
Rossi..........47 (-1)

Neither candidate has been outside the margin of error in the four years Strategic Vision has been polling this race. That's the same as most national pollsters, as only two Evergreen State pollsters have shown significant leads for Gregoire. Republicans have long challenged both pollsters as weighting their polls unfairly toward Democrats.

WA Gov: Rossi +2

Four years after the closest Governor's race in Washington state history, the two candidates who finished just 130 votes apart look headed for another close finish. Talk to any political observer out West and they will agree with polls showing Governor Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, and former Republican State Senator Dino Rossi essentially tied.

The latest survey shows Rossi up, but barely. Conducted by Strategic Vision, the poll surveyed 800 likely voters between 9/14-16 for a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. Gregoire and Rossi were tested.

General Election Matchup
Rossi........48 (+3 from last, 7/27)
Gregoire.....46 (-1)

Strategic Vision conducts regular polls in Washington state, and they've been testing this matchup ever since Gregoire edged out Rossi after three vote counts in 2004. For four years, the candidates have been neck and neck.

That's been the case for virtually every pollster testing the state. Only one, frequently accused of oversampling Democrats, has showed Gregoire with a lead of any significance.

Coattails could matter in a state like Washington, which Barack Obama is expected to win big. But several people with experience polling the state have noted what they call an abnormally large percentage of Obama voters backing Rossi. The Republican is capitalizing on the crossover, casting himself as a change agent.

Both candidates are getting help, and catching flak for associating with, outside organizations. Rossi has been criticized for his ties to the Building Industry Association of Washington, which has spent heavily backing his campaign, while Gregoire has been a target for contributions she received from state workers and Native American tribes.

The Democratic and Republican Governors Associations have been heavily involved as well, with millions in television time reserved through Election Day. Each outside group is going to fight tooth and nail for every advantage they can snag, as the second round of the Gregoire-Rossi fight comes down to the wire.

RGA Up With New Ads

Republicans hit North Carolina's Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue in ad "Status Quo":

Democrats slam North Carolina's McCrory in their latest ad critical of his economic plan:

Republicans hit Washington's Gregoire in "American Idol":

One of Democrats' ads critical of Rossi's positions (For the rest, visit Evergreen Progress):

WA: Gregoire Up Big?

Could a race decided by only 130 votes in 2004 be split wide open this year? That's what Washington Governor Christine Gregoire hopes, but a new poll suggesting as much is ripe for Republican complaints.

The Elway Poll, conducted by Elway Research among 405 registered voters between 7/27-31 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%, tested Gregoire and her 2004 opponent, former State Senator Dino Rossi.

General Election Matchup
(All / Ind)
Gregoire.......52 / 43 (+5 from last, 6/22)
Rossi............36 / 37 (-3)

Obama..........47
McCain..........35

Republicans have always charged that pollster Stuart Elway skews his sample towards Democrats, and this is the first poll of the race in a while that has Gregoire ahead outside the margin of error. But Barack Obama's twelve-point lead is close to the latest RCP Washington Average, which has the Illinois Democrat ahead of John McCain by 10.6 points.

Still, most polls show the race extraordinarily close, as it was four years ago. A Strategic Vision poll released last week showed a two-point Gregoire lead, and a Moore Information poll taken for Rossi earlier in July showed the race tied.

WA: Gregoire +2

No one is shocked by a poll showing a close race between Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, and former Republican State Senator Dino Rossi. After a 130-vote win in 2006, Gregoire is facing another tough challenge from Rossi.

The Strategic Vision survey was conducted 7/25-27 among 800 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 3%. Gregoire and Rossi were tested.

General Election Matchup
Gregoire.......47
Rossi............45

Obama..........48
McCain..........37

After such a contentious race four years ago, the Evergreen State is closely divided between the two candidates. 48% approve of Gregoire's performance as governor while 45% disapprove, and though Gregoire has generally gotten good reviews from local media, she may run into trouble as the incumbent, as just 26% say the state of Washington is headed in the right direction, while 65% say it's going in the wrong direction.

All Tied Up In WA

A new survey confirms what many in Washington State already knew: The race for governor is a dead heat. The rematch between Governor Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, and former Republican State Senator Dino Rossi comes four years after Gregoire won, following multiple recounts, by just 129 votes, and it represents one of Republicans' best hopes of taking back a governorship this year.

The poll, conducted by Moore Information, a Republican firm based in Portland, Oregon, surveyed 400 registered voters between 7/9-10 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Moore Information has done work for the Republican Governors' Association before, but this poll was not sponsored by the RGA. (Major update: The poll was conducted for Rossi's campaign. We regret the oversight.) Gregoire and Rossi were tested.

General Election Matchup
Gregoire........45 (-2 from last, 7/07)
Rossi.............45 (+2)

Virtually every poll this year has shown the two candidates neck and neck, though most have shown a slight Gregoire lead. Both candidates have raised incredible amounts of money, but Rossi has lately narrowed the cash-on-hand edge that Gregoire once enjoyed.

Too, both candidates have gotten bad press lately over associations with outside groups. Rossi has benefited from the Building Industry Association of Washington and its allies, which have poured money into his campaign, while Gregoire is taking heat for money she's raised associated with Native American tribes and teachers' groups.

Though the candidates aren't on television yet, Gregoire is running radio spots associating Rossi with President Bush, while Rossi is up with his own spots noting the early attacks. But Gregoire's ads come after the Builders and other Republican allies started running ads that slammed Gregoire's tenure as governor.

The two candidates are not each others' biggest fans. And given the early negativity and shear volume of money involved in the race, the tone doesn't look like it will change any time soon. Watch both national parties pour resources into the Evergreen State, as Gregoire and Rossi fight what could again be one of the closest races in the country.

Gregoire Still Under 50

Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire has no illusions about the challenge she faces from former State Senator Dino Rossi in November. The incumbent Democrat won by just over 100 votes in 2004, after three ballot counts. But a new survey from a Washington State-based pollster shows this time, the governor has a better lead. At least for now.

The Elway Poll, conducted 6/18-22, surveyed 405 registered voters for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Gregoire and Rossi were tested.

General Election Matchups
(All / Ind)
Gregoire.....47 / 43 (+4 from last, 4/22)
Rossi..........39 / 37 (+1)

The poll, conducted by independent pollster Stuart Elway, has been relatively consistent, showing Gregoire in the mid-40s since January while Rossi hovers just under the 40% mark. Both candidates receive about the same amount of support from their own parties, giving Gregoire an advantage in a state with more Democratic voters than Republicans, though no official party registration numbers exist. In April, Rossi led by four points among self-identified independents; now, Gregoire has a six-point lead among the same voters.

Republicans have long been critical of Elway's polling, suggesting it favors Democratic candidates. And Rossi is in strong position, having raised about the same amount as Gregoire in recent months. Though Gregoire held a big financial advantage when Rossi began raising money, her burn rate has been much higher, giving Rossi a chance to catch up. Still, the poll tracks with live-call surveys throughout the year that show Gregoire maintaining a narrow lead.

At the end of the day, though, any incumbent under 50% faces a difficult challenge ahead. Gregoire is running in a favorable year for Democrats in a state that is likely to give the candidate at the top of her ticket, Barack Obama, a big win. But Rossi has as good a shot as any Republican challenger running for governor this year, and when voters start tuning into the governor's race, the contest could close significantly.

Rossi Files For Office

Former State Senator Dino Rossi, who came just over 100 votes from winning the Washington State governor's mansion in 2004, officially filed papers with the Secretary of State yesterday to make a repeat bid, the Yakima Herald-Republic reports this morning. Rossi will face incumbent Governor Christine Gregoire in November.

Republicans have not won the state's top job since 1980, but Rossi, who led Gregoire on election night and through a machine recount before losing a hand recount, promises to give the Democrat a serious race. Through the end of April, Rossi had raised $4.4 million, about three quarters of the $6 million Gregoire has pulled in so far. Rossi made up serious financial ground during this year's legislative session, when Gregoire was not allowed to raise money.

Choosing to file papers from Yakima is important: Rossi will need a big turnout from Eastern Washington, where both Congressional districts are heavily Republican, to overcome Gregoire's expected large margins in more liberal parts of the state in and around Seattle. Gregoire will likely benefit from Democratic enclaves in cities along the I-5 corridor, which runs from Bellingham on the Canadian border to Vancouver, across the Columbia River from Portland.

The key to Rossi's close finish in 2004 was his strength in the Seattle suburbs. In the state Senate, he represented a district that ran from those eastern suburbs to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Rossi ran much better in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties, the three largest in the state, than other Republicans have in recent years.

Both candidates are in for a tough fight, as public polls have shown a narrow contest (For recent poll results, check out our earlier coverage of the race). Gregoire and Rossi each hover in the low 40s. Both national parties plan to be involved in the race, as Republicans see it as one of their top pickup opportunities while Democrats have made the state, along with North Carolina, their highest defensive priority.

Gregoire will be in that other Washington next week for a series of fundraisers, when she will sit down with Politics Nation to talk about the race and her opportunities this year.

Gregoire Low In WA Poll

The top pollster in Washington State is out with a new survey that paints a grim picture for first-term incumbent Christine Gregoire, a Democrat. But the survey isn't universally good news for Gregoire's Republican opponent-in-waiting, former State Senator Dino Rossi, either.

The poll, conducted by respected independent pollster Stuart Elway, surveyed 405 registered voters around the state between 4/21-22 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Gregoire and Rossi were tested.

General Election Matchup
(All / Sea / KCO / EWA / P/K)
Gregoire 43 / 54 / 41 / 27 / 35
Rossi 38 / 28 / 35 / 54 / 45

(Note: "Sea" is the city of Seattle; "KCO" is King County excluding Seattle; "EWA" is Eastern Washington; "P/K" is Pierce and Kitsap Counties)

Both candidates are under-performing in their base and setting up for a re-run of the 2004 race. Gregoire needs to do very well in heavily-Democratic Seattle, while Rossi needs a similarly large margin in heavily-Republican districts east of the Cascade Mountains.

Rossi ran so close to Gregoire in 2004 -- he lost by just over 100 votes after multiple recounts -- because of his strength in King County, traditionally Democratic territory where he still performed well. Rossi represented a State Senate district in the Cascade foothills, on the county's eastern edge. If Rossi can overtake Gregoire in the parts of King County outside of Seattle, he will have a great chance to take back the governor's mansion for Republicans for the first time since John Spellman was elected in 1980.

Gregoire Lead Up In UW Poll

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, in D.C. for the National Governors' Association meetings, can't seem to stop getting good news. Fresh off her state's presidential caucus, in which she endorsed Barack Obama just days before his landslide win, a new poll shows the Democrat's own chances in November are looking up.

The survey, conducted among 300 registered voters between 2/7-18, was commissioned by the University of Washington and conducted by Pacific Market Research. Gregoire and former State Senator Dino Rossi, a Republican, were surveyed. The margin of error was +/- 5.6%.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Gregoire 54 / 92 / 8 / 56 (+7 from last poll, 10/07)
Rossi 42 / 7 / 87 / 39 (+0)

Rossi need not fold up the tent and go home, though, as the survey has a number of obvious question marks. Eleven days to contact just 300 voters is a long time, and the format by which survey participants were picked is a method other pollsters don't use: All of the 300 respondents were also surveyed for the October poll, a technique known as a "panel survey."

Too, Gregoire was highly visible around the state just before the February 9 caucuses, and her Obama endorsement -- coming as the state's two female Senators backed Hillary Clinton -- made her the most prominent Obama backer on the West Coast. It would not be surprising if Gregoire's image and name had been flashed before respondents dozens of times before and during the poll's life span.

Still, the message to Rossi is clear: As in 2004, when he lost by just over 100 votes, he is running a very steep uphill battle. He came close four years ago, but running against a well-financed incumbent is more difficult than running against a challenger. Other surveys, it is all but certain, will show Rossi closer to Gregoire than this one, but he very clearly has work to do to catch up.

Narrow WA Gov Race

We wrote yesterday of former State Senator Dino Rossi's golden opportunity to close the fundraising gap with incumbent Governor Christine Gregoire. A November poll, released today, shows keeping her fundraising advantage may be the least of Gregoire's worries, as a new poll shows her barely clinging to a lead.

The worst part: The poll was conducted by Democratic firm Grove Insights, of Portland, Oregon, and the same company that Gregoire used as her pollster in 2004. Conducted for Washington Conservation Voters, the poll surveyed 588 likely voters between 11/9-12 for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Gregoire and Rossi were surveyed.

General Election Matchup
(All / Ind)
Gregoire 43 / 30
Rossi 41 / 41

The incumbent Democrat enjoys just a one-point net approval on her job as governor, 49%-48%. And while the poll is older than the most recent look at the race, it tells a similar story to that of a University of Washington poll taken a few weeks earlier. In that poll, Gregoire led by just five points.

A poll out in mid-January, conducted by prominent Seattle pollster Stuart Elway, had Gregoire up by a more substantial 48%-35% margin. Still, being up just two points in a poll conducted by your old polling firm, a Democratic company so widely respected that they are one of just a few that conducts surveys for the DCCC, is not a good sign, and Rossi's camp wasted little time in pointing those facts out.

Rossi's Comeback Chance

New reports with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show former State Senator Dino Rossi with a big fundraising disadvantage in his second bid for governor. But the gap between incumbent Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Rossi is closing fast, and with the legislature in session, Gregoire's money advantage is only likely to get more narrow.

Gregoire has raised more than $4.6 million for her bid, PDC reports show, though she's spent a hefty $1.6 million along the way. Rossi, who has been in the race since October 25, has raised $2.2 million and spent a little over $630,000, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. In 2004, the race, which Gregoire won by 133 votes, cost both candidates more than $6 million each.

Kelly Evans, Gregoire's campaign manager, defended the high burn rate, saying it had gone to building infrastructure that will be crucial come November. PDC reports show Gregoire spent more than $100,000 in December for research and consulting, likely indicating heavy spending on baseline polls. Gregoire's spending slowed significantly in January.

Rossi's opportunity to eliminate his opponent's fundraising advantage comes as the state legislature is in session, during which time no incumbent legislator or statewide elected official can raise money. The fundraising freeze is one reason Rossi quit the legislature before mounting his first bid, in 2004.

Raising $2.2 million in three and a half months is impressive, and given the freeze Gregoire faces, Rossi has another month to build his bank account. The state legislature adjourns its regular session on March 13, at the latest. A poll in mid-January showed Gregoire with a wide 13-point lead, though Rossi is well-known in the state and other surveys have showed both candidates running closer to even.

National strategists on both sides agree Washington presents the strongest Republican target for a pick-up in 2008. Top officials with the Republican and Democratic Governors' Associations each say the race will be costly.

Gregoire Finally Up Big

Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire, preparing for her third annual State of the State Address tonight in Olympia, got some good news today as an independent poll shows her leading her 2004 rival by a wide margin, the first time the incumbent has seen a big lead after scratching out a win last time around. In 2004, Gregoire took several recounts to end up beating State Senator Dino Rossi by just 133 votes.

The survey, taken by independent pollster Stuart Elway, asked questions of 405 voters between 1/3-6, for a margin of error of about 5%. Gregoire and Rossi were surveyed.

General Election Matchup
Gregoire 48
Rossi 35

Rossi's disappointingly low number is close to the Republican baseline in Washington State. It's less than the percentage conservative candidates John Carlson and Ellen Craswell won in their races for governor, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports, and looks likely to rise.

Gregoire leads among every category of voters except independent voters, among whom she trails by nine, and voters from east of the Cascade Mountains, traditionally the GOP's stronghold in the state. Rossi strategists argued that the survey included too many self-identified Democrats, pointing to a poll in late October that showed Gregoire up just five points.

Gregoire Up, Rossi Making Money

The Washington Poll, sponsored by the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at the University of Washington, shows a close race for governor in 2008. Incumbent Chris Gregoire, facing a rematch with defeated 2004 foe Dino Rossi, maintains a narrow lead, which Republicans will argue is a bad sign for an incumbent and which Democrats will argue is much better than the position in which she's found herself in previous polls, trailing Rossi badly.

The poll [PPT], conducted 10/22-28, was taken by Pacific Market Research, surveyed 601 registered voters and came in with a margin of error of +/- 4%. Rossi and Gregoire were surveyed, along with frequent candidate Ruth Bennett, a Libertarian.

General Election Matchup
(All / Puget Sound / Eastern WA / Other west / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Gregoire 47 / 50 / 36 / 48 / 85 / 6 / 43
Rossi 42 / 38 / 52 / 46 / 5 / 86 / 41
Bennett 2 / 2 / 5 / 2 / 3 / 0 / 4

The Puget Sound region, including King, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston Counties, are the traditional Democratic strongholds of the state. Gregoire needs a big lead in those four counties to overcome what will almost certainly be a Rossi romp east of the Cascade Mountains, the GOP's stronghold in the state.

Rossi jumped in the race on October 25, and according to a campaign spokeswoman, the campaign has already pulled in $500,000, cutting into Gregoire's big fundraising lead. Seattle Times' David Postman reports the campaign raised $463,000 in the last six days of October and $110,000 in the first two days of November, a rapid pace that probably comes from pre-announcement commitments.

Gregoire has raised about $3.25 million, including $321,000 last month, according to as-yet incomplete finance reports (completed versions are due Saturday).

Rossi Quits Non-Profit, Starts Exploring

The irreplaceable David Postman, Washington State's version of David Yepsen or John DiStaso, reported earlier this week that 2004 Republican gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi stepped down from his post as head of Forward Washington, a non-profit think tank he had founded, because he was a distraction to the group's mission.

Rossi told another Seattle Times reporter that he would spend about the next six weeks contemplating a rematch against Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), who beat Rossi in the most closely-contested election in Washington State history, the validity of the results of which are still hotly debated.

Rossi initially decided to accept a severance package from Forward Washington, though he later decided against one

Postman thinks Rossi's decision to step down, as well as the $3 million Gregoire has raised, are their own announcements, and that neither is being terribly honest when pretending to delay an official announcement.

If Rossi does make the race, national Republicans will no doubt help him catch up with Gregoire's fundraising -- he made good connections when, after his loss, he traveled to DC for President Bush's second inaugural, and the RGA still has him smack in the middle of their radar. The Evergreen State will be one of the most tightly contested races in 2008.

Gregoire's Big Bank, Big Burn Rate

After winning the 2004 election by just over 100 votes and three recounts, Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) knows she faces a tough battle for re-election, especially if, as looks likely, former State Sen. Dino Rossi (R) runs against her a second time. Rossi, from Issaquah, a Seattle suburb, has kept his name in the papers with his Forward Washington Foundation think tank, and many say his decision on the race could be forthcoming as early as October.

Gregoire is taking no chances, though, and is stockpiling money as fast as she can. Gregoire raised about $6.4 million for the 2004 race, the most in Washington State history. Now, in the five months since the legislature has been out of session (statewide candidates in state offices are subject to a fundraising freeze while the legislature is in session), Gregoire has held about two dozen fundraisers, pulling in almost $1 million, according to the Seattle Times.

Those events bring Gregoire's total raised to more than $2.6 million, and puts her on pace to raise more than she did in 2004. Still, filings with the Public Disclosure Commission, Washington's version of the FEC, show the Democrat has burned through about $940,000 of that cash, for a 35% burn rate, leaving her with about $1.7 million on hand.

The high burn rate doesn't scare many Democrats, though. "Next year is the most politically expensive year of our lives," said Democratic consultant Cathy Allen. "What they're doing now is building the data and getting early commitments from people, and that costs money and takes time."

Republicans, on the other hand, see the burn rate as indicative of fundraising troubles. "That's surprising that she's burned that much because the early money should be the low-hanging fruit," said GOP strategist Todd Myers.

Republican strategists are convinced that Rossi will be able to quickly close the gap, especially because of the fundraising freeze. Gregoire will not be able to fundraise beginning thirty days before the legislative session starts. Rossi has "three, four months where he can fundraise where the governor can't," Myers said. "From this day forward, he has more time to fundraise than she does." Allen, among other Democrats, is not convinced. "Happily, the economy is pretty good here," she said. "But it's not that good."

A poll conducted in early July showed Rossi trailing Gregoire by just 4 points, 47%-43%, in a state that leans heavily Democratic. Rossi, if he runs, will have a lot of catching up to do in order to stay financially competitive. But a high burn rate from Gregoire, along with a GOP fundraising base still hopping mad about the 2004 election, will allow the Republican to catch up just that much faster.

UPDATE: This reporter made the idiotic mistake of spelling Mr. Myers' name with one too many e's. We regret the error.