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Runner-up calls for a new vote in Washington governor's race

But Democrat who won recount dismisses idea

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Republican Dino Rossi yesterday urged his Democratic rival in the closest governor's race in state history to join him in calling for a revote.

"The uncertainty surrounding this election process isn't just bad for you and me -- it is bad for the entire state," Rossi read from the text of a letter he said he sent to Democrat Christine Gregoire. "People need to know for sure that the next governor actually won the election."

The Gregoire camp immediately dismissed the notion that a revote might be feasible. She is scheduled to be certified as Washington's governor-elect yesterday, by a scant 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.

"It's irresponsible to spend $4 million in taxpayer money on a new election just because you don't like losing this one," Gregoire's spokesman Morton Brilliant said.

Rossi made his plea for a revote, which would have to be approved by the state Legislature, during a news conference. "A revote would be the best solution for the people of our state, and would give us a legitimate governorship," his letter said.

Today's planned certification of the vote by Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican, will take place more than eight weeks after Election Day.

An unprecedented statewide hand recount -- the third vote count -- put Gregoire, a three-time attorney general, ahead for the first time, by just a tiny fraction of 1 percent.

Rossi, a real estate agent and former state senator, won the initial tally last month by 261 votes, triggering an automatic machine recount. He won that count, too, by 42 votes.

While noting that he could contest the election, Rossi said yesterday that a legal challenge could drag on for months.

The better way to clear up the mess, he said, would be to ask lawmakers to pass a bill calling for a special election as soon as the Democrat-controlled state Legislature convenes in early January for the 2005 session.

Earlier in the day, Rossi's spokeswoman Mary Lane said he and his advisers, including state GOP chairman Chris Vance, were weighing whether to contest the results.

Governor Gary Locke said he strongly disagrees with Rossi's call for another election. "The people have voted, and all votes properly cast were counted," said Locke, a Democrat who's retiring after two terms.

Amid the weeks of uncertainty, both Gregoire and Rossi have maintained transition offices, appointing teams to work on a state budget, Cabinet appointments, and an agenda for the upcoming Legislature.

Rossi had been using the title "governor-elect," and his family even toured the governor's mansion.

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