[NWPT48]Week one trial wrap-up: Dino Rossi lost the election, and now he will lose his election contest lawsuit. Justice will be served.
I’ll follow up with a more detailed analysis, but I just want to reiterate for a moment my sense that this entire trial is sham. The GOP spent good money on good attorneys, and you can be sure that going into their opening arguments they had a pretty good understanding that this was a lost cause. But they decided to drag the state through it anyway (and I’m guessing again, in the inevitable Supreme Court appeal), simply because they believe they can use this as a forum for scoring political points in the court of public opinion.
That may be true, and that may constitute shrewd political strategy. But it is fundamentally dishonest, shows great disrespect for the law and the courts, is counter to the very purpose of the contest statute, and in the long term, may be very harmful to our democracy.
Rossi and his surrogates have tried to argue that the Legislature couldn’t possibly have intended to make proving a contest this hard, but I believe that by their very disregard for the statute, they are proving the wisdom of its authors. The bar was set so very high, exactly to prevent contests from being abused for pure political gain in the way the Republicans are now frivolously attempting. Yes, Rossi has every right to pursue a contest, but he also has the responsibility to the voters of this state to drop his challenge and concede, when faced with the reality that he cannot prevail in court. And that reality became absolutely obvious to all but the most impartial observers weeks ago, when the Democrats produced their list of offsetting illegal votes, making it impossible for Rossi to prevail, even on his own dubious proportional deduction theory.
But instead of conceding, Rossi’s attorneys concocted a bold opening statement, filled with bold lies, promising proof of stuffed ballots and other fraudulent acts on the part of King County Elections officials. They have not only failed to prove these charges, they failed to present a single scrap of direct evidence to support them.
Unable to actually put Rossi in the Governor’s Mansion, the Republican’s focus has been to make Gregoire’s win a Pyrrhic victory. Listen to the right-wing blogs and talk-radio… they’re laughing at Democrats for failing to prove their case to the public, even as the GOP attorneys flop in court. This has been a week about smearing Democrats in general — and King County in particular — and they intend to harvest the anger and suspicion they’ve lovingly sown, in upcoming election battles against Ron Sims, Maria Cantwell, and Democratic candidates across the state. Utilizing their own peculiar political alchemy, the Republicans have managed to transform the consolation prize — public opinion — into a trophy more coveted than the Governor’s Mansion itself.
One can only hope that like their leaders in the other Washington, our local GOP has also overreached. Sims is as formidable a candidate as David Irons is weak, and voters will clearly see Cantwell’s main opponent as the Bush/Delay/Frist agenda, regardless of who Karl Rove eventually recruits to run against her. Beyond these two elections, memory of this contest will fade, and Gregoire will eventually run for a second term on the basis of her record in office, not the baseless charges of fraud that have been irresponsibly leveled against her.
And the big loser in all this — in court, at the polls, and in public opinion — will be Dino Rossi. That is, if justice extends outside the courts.