by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & The Suspense is Over & r & & r & If you were wondering if Chris Gregoire would run for reelection (despite a zillion-to-one chance she'd bow out, she's been coy about her decision), she ended all the manufactured speculation Monday when she announced she'd seek four more years as Washington governor. And she's doing it the old-fashioned way: taking credit for the good stuff (lowest unemployment in state history) and downplaying the bad (the tightening financial picture behind the state budget).
Meanwhile, Dino Rossi has been running for a while -- perhaps since losing to Gregoire in one of the narrowest gubernatorial elections in U.S. history. You can already see the "Re-Elect Rossi" bumper stickers, and he told a Kitsap County audience in March that, "Rarely in life do we ever get a second chance at something that's really important. With this race, Washington state gets a second chance."
A University of Washington poll conducted between Feb. 7-18 suggests the do-over might not be as close; Gregoire has the early lead, as voters statewide support her by a 54-42 tally (with a margin of error of 5.6 percent). Then again, a more recent SurveyUSA poll has it 48-47 for Gregoire (+/- 4.1 percent). Looks like we're in for another battle.
Democrats have been panicked that their long battle to choose a nominee might be just the kind of snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory thing they've become known for. While Barack Obama tries to run out the clock, Hillary Clinton keeps lobbing the broadsides, doing work the John McCain campaign doesn't have to pay for. But there may be a silver lining to having a tough contest persist into the late spring: voter registration.
According to USA Today, Pennsylvania (site of the April 22 primary) reports that, thanks to a surge in registrations related to the Obama-Clinton contest, there are now 4 million registered Democrats. That's the highest number of Pennsylvanians ever registered in either party, and it's cause to worry for Republicans hoping to put the Keystone State into their electoral puzzle come November. Registration numbers are rising in other states yet to vote, like Oregon (where more than 50,000 new voters are expected to be registered in time to vote on May 20) and North Carolina (where nearly 170,000 new voters are expected to vote on May 6).