A valiant try by Washington state Democrats to conjure up every vote they could has fallen just short of electing a Democrat governor:
Republican Dino Rossi, whose call for a change of leadership in Olympia struck a chord with voters, yesterday came out on top of Washington's closest-ever race for governor.
When the vote count finally wrapped up last night, more than two weeks after Election Day, Rossi's margin was a mere 261 votes over Democratic Attorney General Christine Gregoire, triggering a mandatory statewide recount that begins this weekend.
Of the more than 2.8 million votes tallied, Rossi won 1,371,414 (48.88 percent) compared to 1,371,153 (48.87 percent) for Gregoire.
....After trailing most of last week, Gregoire surged ahead on Monday after King County discovered it had 10,000 more uncounted ballots than previously projected.
Rossi and the Republicans got more bad news on Tuesday, when Grays Harbor County officials found some errors in their vote tabulation and decided to recount all the county's ballots. Rossi lost hundreds of votes in the recount.
Still, Rossi regained the lead and, heading into yesterday's final count, was ahead by 19 votes.
....Rossi's lead grew steadily to more than 400 votes by late afternoon.
But Gregoire jumped back ahead by about 40 votes after King County, her biggest stronghold, reported its final count of nearly 1,400.
But the lead flipped two more times later that afternoon.
Just before 6:30, a loud cheer went up at Rossi headquarters in Bellevue as a call came in from Benton County, the last to report its results. Rossi hugged his wife and hoisted his youngest daughter in his arms as volunteers and campaign workers high-fived one another, joking that they'd worked about 230 votes too hard.
The race was also a big factor in generating one of the highest voter turnouts on record. After yesterday's final tally, the statewide turnout stood at 82.13 percent — not far off the all-time record of 84.5 percent in 1944.
Rossi wound up winning 31 of 39 counties. He won every county east of the Cascades and beat Gregoire in several key Western Washington counties, including Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap and Clark.
That's known as a broad victory, for any Semi-Daily Journal suspects who might wander in here.