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Washington gubernatorial election, 2008

Washington gubernatorial election, 2008

November 4, 2008

Nominee Christine Gregoire Dino Rossi
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,598,738 1,404,124
Percentage 53.24% 46.76%

Results of Election.

Governor before election

Christine Gregoire

Elected Governor

Christine Gregoire

The gubernatorial election in Washington, 2008 elected the Governor of Washington on November 4, 2008. With the emergence from the August 19 primary of Republican Dino Rossi and incumbent Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire, the 2008 election was a rematch between the candidates from the 2004 election. That election was the closest in Washington State history with each receiving 49 percent of the vote and Rossi winning the first two of three counts. In contrast to the recounts and months of legal challenges in their previous contest, Dino Rossi conceded defeat in the election to Gregoire on November 5, earning 46 percent of the vote.


  • Timeline 1
  • Candidates 2
    • Controversy over Rossi's party preference 2.1
  • Primary Elections 3
    • Primary results 3.1
  • General Election 4
    • Polling 4.1
    • Police Guild press conference incident 4.2
    • Debates 4.3
    • Election results 4.4
    • Early declaration 4.5
    • Concession 4.6
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Date Year Event Reference Notes
June 6 2008 Filing Deadline [2]
August 19 2008 State Primary [3] Same date as general primaries for other offices
November 4 2008 General Election [3] Same date as Presidential election and other offices
November 26 2008 General Election [3] Last day for counties to deliver results to the state
December 4 2008 General Election [3] Results certified


 Candidates for office
Candidate Stated Party Preference Website Notes
Christine Gregoire Prefers Democratic Party cw Incumbent Governor
Dino Rossi Prefers G.O.P. Party cw ex-state senator, 2004 gubernatorial nominee
Will Baker Prefers Reform Party cw Out; Lost primary
Duff Badgley Prefers Green Party cw Out; Lost primary
John W. Aiken, Jr. Prefers Republican Party cw Out; Lost primary
Christian Pierre Joubert Prefers Democratic Party cw Out; Lost primary
Chris Tudor States No Party Preference cw Out; Lost primary
Javier O. Lopez Prefers Republican Party cw Out; Lost primary
Mohammad Hasan Said States No Party Preference cw Out; Lost primary
James White Prefers Independent Party cw Out; Lost primary
Source: Secretary of State

Controversy over Rossi's party preference

Under the changes to election law made by the passage of Initiative 872, partisan contests are no longer tied to registered parties, but candidates are allowed to indicate an arbitrary "party preference" to appear next to their name on the primary and general election ballots.[4] An extreme example of this occurred in the 40th District race for state senator, where candidate Timothy Stoddard indicated a preference for the "Salmon Yoga" party.[5]

Republican candidate Dino Rossi listed his party preference as "G.O.P." instead of the traditional party name "Republican". Critics of Rossi contended that the choice of party name was an attempt to distance himself from any negative opinions associated with the Republican Party.[6] Rossi's campaign argued that the difference was insignificant, saying voters are already aware that the terms refer to the same party.[7] However, an Elway Research poll taken in August 2008 found that over 25% of registered voters were not aware that the term "GOP" meant the Republican Party.[8]

On September 23, the Washington State Democrats, alleging that the latter is a misrepresentation of his true party affiliation, filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State to force the state to list Rossi to on the general election ballot as a Republican instead of with the "GOP Party" label.[9] A King County Superior Court judge dismissed the suit, saying nothing in state law made the choice of party name illegal, but he acknowledged the potential confusion. Had the lawsuit succeeded, many counties would have had to reprint their ballots, and the already-cast absentee votes of military personnel may have become invalid.[10]

Primary Elections

The Washington primary election was held August 19, 2008. For the first time, Washington ran a top-two primary, eliminating the "pick a party" primary used since 2004. Unlike traditional primaries, wherein each party with more than one candidate is reduced to a single person to appear on the general election ballot, the system simply reduces the entire crop of candidates from all parties down to the top two candidates, resulting in no more than two candidates appearing on the general election ballot for a given position. As a result, candidates from all parties were essentially running against each other. To allow for ideological identification, each candidate in a partisan race was allowed to indicate an arbitrary party preference.[11]

Primary results

While the primary was officially held on August 19, 2008, some counties such as King County allow absentee ballots to be postmarked by that date in order to be valid. As a result, the primary vote tally may not be officially certified until as late as September 9, to allow time for mailed-in ballots to arrive and be counted by the counties. As an increasing number of counties allow, encourage, or mandate mail-in ballots for voters within the county, the number of such ballots can be significant.[12]

The vote tally as of October 10 is as follows:[13]

Candidate Home city Stated Party preference Total Votes Percentage
Dino Rossi Sammamish[14] Prefers G.O.P. Party 668,571 46.35%
Will Baker Tacoma Prefers Reform Party 5,201 0.36%
Christine Gregoire Auburn Prefers Democratic Party 696,306 48.27 %
Duff Badgley Seattle Prefers Green Party 9,702 0.67%
John W. Aiken, Jr. Medical Lake Prefers Republican Party 21,564 1.49%
Christian Pierre Joubert Edmonds Prefers Democratic Party 16,646 1.15%
Christopher A. Tudor Indianola States No Party Preference 5,600 0.39%
Javier O. Lopez Lacey Prefers Republican Party 4,981 0.35%
Mohammad Hasan Said Ephrata States No Party Preference 3,002 0.21%
James White Marysville Prefers Independent Party 10,884 0.75%
Total 1,441,753 100.00 %

General Election

Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi were declared the winners of the primary and placed on the ballot for the November 4th election, which coincided with the national election. However, with all Washington counties either exclusively or (in the case of Pierce and King counties) predominantly voting via mail-in ballot,[15] many votes were cast prior to that date. King County, the largest county in the state, and the one which carried Gregoire to victory in 2004, sent out overseas absentee ballots on October 5, and resident mail-in ballots on October 17.[16]

In Washington state, mail-in ballots only need to be postmarked, not received, by November 4, meaning that valid ballots will continue to be received and counted after that date.[17] For the 2008 election, counties had until November 26 to send results to the state, and the Secretary of State had until December 4 to certify all state results.[3]


Source Date Gregoire Rossi Undecided
Survey USA November 2, 2008 52% 46% 1%
Survey USA October 26–27, 2008 50% 48% 2%
Rasmussen Reports October 22, 2008 50% 48% 2%
Survey USA October 12–13, 2008 48% 47% 5%
Rasmussen Reports October 2, 2008 48% 48%
Survey USA September 21–22, 2008 50% 48% 1%
Strategic Vision September 14–16, 2008 46% 48% 6%
Rasmussen Reports September 10, 2008 46% 52%
Survey USA September 5–7, 2008 47% 48% 2%
SurveyUSA August 11–12, 2008 50% 48% 1%
Rasmussen Reports August 6, 2008 47% 43% -
Strategic Vision July 25–27, 2008 47% 45% 8%
SurveyUSA July 13–15, 2008 49% 46% 3%
Moore Information July 9–10, 2008 45% 45% 9%
Rasmussen Reports July 9, 2008 49% 43% -
Elway Poll June 18–22, 2008 47% 39% -
Rasmussen Reports June 9, 2008 50% 43% -
SurveyUSA June 9, 2008 50% 47% 1%
Rasmussen Reports May 12, 2008 52% 41% -
Elway Poll April 21–22, 2008 43% 38% -
SurveyUSA April 14–16, 2008 50% 46% 2%
SurveyUSA April 7, 2008 48% 47% 5%
Rasmussen Reports March 27, 2008 47% 46% 7%
Rasmussen Reports February 28, 2008 46% 47% 7%
Washington Poll February 7–18, 2008 53.7% 42.1% 3.5%
Elway Poll January 3–6, 2008 48% 35% -
Washington Poll October 22–29, 2007 46.8% 42.4% 7.3%
Strategic Vision October 5–7, 2007 47% 45% 8%
Strategic Vision March 24–26, 2006 38% 51% 11%

Police Guild press conference incident

At an August 7 press conference held by the Seattle Police Officers Guild to declare its endorsement of Rossi, the Guild forcibly removed Kelly Akers, a Gregoire campaign staffer who was filming the event, from the premises. The Rossi campaign reiterated a standing policy to prevent opposing campaigns from filming Rossi's appearances, to deny them the ability to take "attack footage". Rossi's campaign staff includes a cameraman tasked with filming Gregoire appearances.[18]


Five debates were held[19] between the Gregoire and Rossi, the candidates in the general election.

Date Time Location Sponsors
2008-09-20 9:00 PM Fisher Plaza (Seattle) Fisher Communications, League of Women Voters, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
2008-09-25 7:30 PM Semiahmoo Resort (Blaine) Association of Washington Business
2008-10-01 7:00 PM Capitol Theatre (Yakima) KCTS 9 and Yakima Herald-Republic
2008-10-09 7:00 PM*[20] KSPS-TV Studios (Spokane) KSPS-TV, Spokane Spokesman-Review
2008-10-15 8:00 PM[21] TBD KING-TV, Seattle Times, NPR

*The Spokane debate was taped in the morning to be aired at the indicated time. All other debates are held and aired live.

The Gregoire campaign had sought a sixth debate in Tacoma, sponsored by the Tacoma News-Tribune. The Rossi campaign instead sought a sixth debate in Vancouver, Washington sponsored by The Columbian. The local Camas-Washougal Rotary Club went so far as to reserve a venue for October 8. The campaigns could not agree on either event.[22][23][24][25]

The Gregoire campaign had set aside August 15 for a pre-primary radio debate with Rossi on Seattle NPR station KUOW-FM.[26] Rossi declined to appear, giving Gregoire solo airtime.[27]

Election results

These are the gubernatorial election results as of 11/25/2008 10:45 PM PST.[28]

Governor of Washington election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Christine Gregoire (Incumbent) 1,598,738 53.24
Republican Dino Rossi 1,404,124 46.76
Invalid or blank votes %
Total votes 3,002,862 100.00
Voter turnout 84.61%

Early declaration

Gregoire declared victory after late evening returns were posted, with 42% of the statewide vote counted, showing her with a 52% lead over Rossi.[29] By 10:30 PM PST (1:30 AM EST) all five major television networks had called the race for Gregoire.[30]

The Rossi campaign called the networks' declarations "premature" and did not concede defeat that evening. Rossi held out hope that late ballots would carry him, as late returns had reversed an early Gregoire lead in 2004. Rossi conceded the next morning.


Rossi conceded defeat in the gubernatorial election on November 5. In his concession speech, he indicated that he was not planning a return to politics.[31]


  1. ^ Secretary of the State of Washington. "Calendar". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  2. ^ Politics1. "Politics 1-Washington". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Elections Calendar". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  4. ^ "People’s Choice Initiative of 2004 (Initiative 872)" (PDF). Washington Office of the Secretary of State. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-08-27.  "Definitions" section, paragraph on the term "partisan office".
  5. ^ "August 19, 2008 Top 2 Primary - Legislative District 40 - State Senator". publisher=Washington Office of the Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  6. ^ Washington political blogger Goldy suggested that Rossi was "too ashamed to have the Republican brand attached to his name." Goldstein, David (2008-06-05). "BREAKING: Dino Rossi quits Republican Party!". Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  7. ^ Roberts, Gregory (2008-06-06). "Rossi not exactly on ballot as Republican". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  8. ^ The Elway press release to news organizations was reprinted in Mapes, Jeff (2008-08-14). "Washington's current governor's race". Mapes on Politics. The Oregonian. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  9. ^ Garber, Andrew (2008-09-24). """Democrats sue to make Rossi call himself "Republican" instead of "GOP. Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  10. ^ Johnson, Gene (2008-09-26). "Seattle judge OKs ballot with 'GOP' Rossi". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  11. ^ "Announcing Washington State's NEW Top 2 Primary" (PDF). Washington Office of the Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  12. ^ McGann, Chris (2008-08-19). "Top-two primary kicks off today". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  13. ^ "August 19, 2008 Top 2 Primary - State Executive - Governor". Washington Office of the Secretary of State. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  14. ^ All candidates' home city information taken from "2008 Primary Voters' Guide". Washington Office of the Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  15. ^ Roberts, Gregory (2008-02-07). "King County delays all-mail voting until 2009". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  16. ^ King County. "King County Elections". Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  17. ^ "Vote by Mail FAQ". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  18. ^ Postman, David (2008-08-12). "Dem cameraman is evicted from Dino Rossi event". Seattle Times. Andrew Garber. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  19. ^ Hagey, Jason (2008-09-08). "Debate schedule: Gregoire, Rossi preparing to face-off at least five times". Political Buzz. Tacoma News Tribune. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  20. ^ Brunt, Josh (2008-10-09). "Gov. Gregoire, Rossi debate". Spokane Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  21. ^ Garber, Andrew (2008-10-05). "The truth behind claims by Rossi, Gregoire". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-10-09.  (Sidebar: "Rossi-Gregoire debates")
  22. ^ Hagey, Jason (2008-09-26). "Gregoire, Rossi kick off debate schedule tonight". Tacoma News Tribune. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  23. ^ Hagey, Jason (2008-09-08). "Debate schedule: Gregoire, Rossi preparing to face-off at least five times". Political Buzz. Tacoma News Tribune. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  24. ^ "Chris Gregoire Too Busy to Debate Rossi in Clark County". Camas Washougal Watch. 2008-08-12. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  25. ^ Durbin, Kathie (2008-08-07). "Gregoire declines offers to debate Rossi locally". The Columbian. 
  26. ^ Mulick, Chris (2008-08-05). "Gregoire, Rossi plan gubernatorial debates". Tri-City Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  27. ^ Connelly, Joel (2008-08-15). "Rossi to NPR: I won't show". Strange Bedfellows. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  28. ^ "November 4, 2008 General Election - State Executive". Washington Office of the Secretary of State. 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  29. ^ La Corte, Rachel (2008-11-04). "Gregoire claims victory in Washington gov. rematch". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  30. ^ Callaghan, Peter (2008-11-04). "Networks call it for Gregoire. Is it real?". Political Buzz. Tacoma News Tribune. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  31. ^ La Corte, Rachel (2008-11-05). "Republican Rossi concedes Wash governor's race". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 

External links

  • Elections from the Washington Secretary of State
  • Washington Governor candidates at Project Vote Smart
  • Washington Governor race from
  • Washington Governor race from 2008 Race Tracker
  • Campaign contributions from Follow the Money
  • Rossi (R) vs Gregoire (D-i) graph of collected poll results from
  • Official campaign websites
    • Christine Gregoire, Democratic incumbent candidate
    • Dino Rossi, Republican candidate
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