OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Republican Dino Rossi came out ahead in the recount for Washington governor yesterday by 42 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast, and the Democrats are expected to demand yet another recount that could drag on past Christmas.
If the results hold up, Rossi will have beaten Attorney General Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, in the closest gubernatorial election in Washington history.
The contest was the nation's last undecided race for governor.
Rossi had also won the regular count, but his 261-vote margin was so tiny that it triggered the automatic recount.
The Republicans called on Gregoire to concede and not drag the state through a third count that could take a month or more.
But even before the last big surge of ballots was tallied, the Democrats had signaled they would seek a hand recount in at least part of the state if Gregoire ended up on the short end.
The Seattle area's heavily Democratic King County gave Gregoire a last-minute lift, but not enough to put her over the top.
Rossi, 45, a real estate millionaire and former state Senate budget chairman from the Seattle suburb of Sammamish, was hoping to become the first Republican since 1980 to get elected governor. He ran on a platform of change and job-creation.
Gregoire, 57, was hoping to become the state's second woman governor. She carried eight of the 39 counties, most notably the largest, King, which includes heavily Democratic Seattle. Gregoire was strongly backed by the women's movement and was best known for battling the tobacco industry.
The winner succeeds retiring two-term Governor Gary Locke on Jan. 12. Locke is the country's first Chinese-American governor.
Since Election Day, the Bush White House had dispatched its election specialists to Washington, and the Democratic Governors Association offered to help finance a new hand recount of at least part of the state.
Secretary of State Sam Reed, the state's chief elections officer, said he plans to certify the machine recount on Tuesday. The campaigns or their parties have three business days to request a full or partial manual recount at their own expense.
Reed said he would probably direct that such a recount begin Dec. 6, and that the job could take as long as two weeks. If a partial recount changes the outcome, state law requires a manual recount in the rest of the state.