the movie “The Godfather,” while Clemenza gives Michael small
arms training he counsels the young Don not to worry about the coming
Mafia war…“these things have got to happen every ten years
or so;” says Clemenza, “it cleans out the bad blood.”
Republicans for watching the calendar and stubbornly focusing on Washington
state, but it has been ten years since the last gubernatorial election
was arguably stolen from them. The year was ’94. The state was Maryland.
The candidates were Republican Ellen Sauerbrey and Democrat Parris Glendening.
In ’94 in Maryland, the last Republican to hold the Maryland governorship
was Spiro Agnew. He’d been elected in 1964. On election night the
vote showed Glendening had won only three of Maryland’s 24 counties,
Baltimore County and the two Washington D.C. suburban counties, Montgomery
and Prince Georges County, yet he still carried the state by 6,000 votes.
Sauerbrey sued to have the election overturned, arguing that 5,000 ballots
were cast by prison inmates and that several hundred ballots were cast
by voters who voted twice, gave home addresses of abandoned buildings
or were deceased. A Maryland judge eventually threw out Sauerbrey’s
suit ruling that only 3,700 votes were in dispute and that they would
not be enough to change the election outcome. Glendening went on to the
governorship and four years later defeated Sauerbrey in a rematch.
not be until ’02, when Republican Robert Erlich defeated Democrat
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, that Maryland would get its first Republican
governor in four decades. The picture of thousands of crooked ballots
in Maryland in ’94 coming from the state’s largest counties
became an unsettling image for Republicans nationally, reminding them
of the 1960 Presidential Election when Mayor Daley illegally delivered
Cook County and Illinois to JFK and consequently the presidency.
presidential election didn’t help calm Republican fears about electoral
shenanigans by Democrats in big city counties. Remember Al Gore wanting
a recount, but only a recount in Florida’s three largest counties…all
in 2004, Republican Dino Rossi has lost the closest gubernatorial election
in American history, 129 votes, to Democrat Christine Gregoire. Washington
state, like Maryland in 1994, and like Oregon today, has not elected a
Republican to the governorship in two decades. The last Washington Republican
governor was John Spellman, elected in 1980, but defeated for reelection
in 1984 by Democrat Booth Gardner.
won the election in the first count and also won in the second count,
and who carried 31 of 39 of the state’s counties, eventually lost
the third count, the manual recount. While Rossi is expected to take the
Nixon route and (for the good of the state) not sue, still, questions
remain. Republicans are experiencing a growing sense of uneasiness that
in very close elections Democrats will always prevail because of the straggling
and questionable votes that Democrats always seem able to produce from
their large, urban counties.
the more troubling aspects of the Gregoire/Rossi election:
large Republican counties, Clark and Spokane, able to do their manual
recount and change the outcome by only 2 and 7 votes respectively, while
King County’s recount meant a change in favor of Gregoire of 179
votes? (And in this election those 179 votes meant everything.)
King County, a county which is two-thirds Democrat, the only county in
the state to find uncounted ballots at the county’s election headquarters?
(And how convenient was it that one of those uncounted ballots just happened
to belong to a
councilman, immediately giving the uncounted ballots credibility with
the media they would not have had otherwise.)