Christine Gregoire

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Governor of Washington
Christine Gregoire (D)

2005  — Current
Preceded by: Gary Locke

Christine O'Grady "Chris" Gregoire (born March 24, 1947) is the Democratic governor state of Washington. Her election to the office in 2004 was notable for her historically slim margin of victory over Republican Dino Rossi, who had appeared to defeat Gregoire on election day and after a first recount conducted by machine, until a second hand recount resulted in a reversal of the outcome in her favor. She is Washington's second female governor.


Gregoire, born Christine O'Grady, was raised in Auburn, Washington by her mother, Sybil O. Jacob, who raised Gregoire alone after leaving an abusive marriage shortly after the future governor's birth. Gregoire grew up on a small farm in Auburn, at the time a rural community, helping care for the crops and livestock and working as a cook in town. Gregoire attended the University of Washington, graduating in 1969 with a teaching certificate and a bachelor's degree in speech and sociology. She is an alumna of Kappa Delta sorority, where she served as the chapter's president. In her campaign for governor in 2004 she would be criticized for maintaining the sorority's policy of admitting only white, Christian women. After college she worked as a clerk-typist, and later as a welfare fraud investigator for the state Department of Social and Health Services, where she met her future husband, Mike Gregoire. [1]

Chris Gregoire attended law school at Gonzaga University in Spokane, graduating in 1977, and went to work as an assistant attorney general in the office of state Attorney General Slade Gorton, a Republican. As an assistant attorney general, Gregoire concentrated on child-abuse cases, coordinating with social workers to get children removed from abusive family situations and placed with relatives or foster homes. The Gregoires' first child, Courtney, was born in 1979; a second daughter died within hours of birth in 1981. A third daughter, Michelle, was born in 1982.

When not in Olympia, Gregoire lives in the nearby suburb of Lacey with her husband Mike; the couple also spends part of most summers at a cabin on the shores of Hayden Lake, Idaho that the family bought in 1979. Their two daughters, Courtney and Michelle, are both graduates of Olympia High School in Olympia, Washington.

In 2003, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in an early stage after a routine check-up and a mammogram. She had surgery and recovered to good health. She mentions her fight with cancer in speeches about health care.

Director of Washington Department of Ecology

She served as the director of the Washington Department of Ecology from 1988 until 1992, when she was first elected attorney general, a post to which she was twice re-elected. While Ecology director she negotiated a three party agreement in 1989 with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to clean up waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. As attorney general she sued several times to try to get a more adequate cleanup job. Congress has not appropriated a sufficient level of funding to allow the pace of activity anticipated by the original agreement, now estimated to require a total of $50 to $100 billion. Dissatisfaction with the slow pace of cleanup led to a successful initiative in 2004 that requires the refusal of new waste shipments until past cleanup promises are back on track.

Washington Attorney General

Chris Gregoire was elected to three terms as attorney general and was the first woman to be elected to the position in Washington. During her time in office, she worked on children's issues, reformed the state's juvenile system, led an effort to strengthen identity theft victims' rights, worked to pass a new ethics law for state government and to find alternatives to litigation in resolving legal disputes. Her office, in conjunction with other state attorneys general, investigated and sued drug companies for allegedly violating antitrust laws concerning manipulation of the price and availability of prescription drugs.

Gregoire was also heavily involved in the lawsuit against the tobacco industry in the 1990s and won the state a $4.5 billion share of the settlement, including a $500 million bonus for her lead role. In recognition of her leadership in the fight against the tobacco industry, Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund campaigned on her behalf in 2004 and stated "There isn’t a stronger tobacco control leader anywhere in the Country than Chris Gregoire". Gregoire was also critical of a later securitization of the tobacco industry settlement to fill a budget gap in the 2002 state budget.

She was also critical in preventing the Republican controlled House from diverting $90 million of the state's share of the money into the general fund, leaving only $2.5 million ear-marked for tobacco related issues.

Controversy arose in 2000 when Gregoire's office failed to file documents on time in an appeal of a record $17.8 million personal-injury verdict against Washington state. Though it was unclear as to who misplaced the files, Gregoire was said to have tried every possible way to ensure that her name would not be tied in a bad way to the accident. An independent investigation forced state attorney Janet Capps to resign. Capps later sued the state for wrongful termination. Documents from the independent investigation show that Gregoire's deputies attempted to influence the report by downplaying broad management problems in the office. In 2002, during a wrongful death lawsuit against the state, Gregoire’s office did not detect an error in jury instructions; the state was eventually hit with a $22.4 million judgment as a result of that lawsuit. While Gregoire was not directly in charge of these cases, as Attorney General she was ultimately responsible for them.

2004 election

Gregoire defeated Ron Sims and four other minor candidates in the primary election on September 14, 2004. Sims campaigned on the need for tax reform. Gregoire performed relatively poorly among blacks and liberal whites, which is likely due to Sims' ethnicity and questions about her participation in a college sorority.

During the general election against former state senator and real estate agent Dino Rossi, Gregoire proposed a major initiative in life sciences, especially stem cell research. She was criticized for being a part of the Olympia establishment but tried to counter the "time for a change" message by saying she would "blow past the bureaucracy" and bring change herself. This language surprised and disappointed many of her colleagues and supporters. She was also criticized for failing to give much mention or credit to the efforts and achievements of past Democratic governors while touting her own public service.

Vote count dispute

The election was held on November 2, 2004. The initial count showed her trailing Rossi by 261 votes; however, a legally mandated machine recount diminished that lead to only 42 votes. On December 3, the Democratic Party requested and funded a hand recount which gave Gregoire a 10-vote lead. They also filed a motion in the state Supreme Court to request that rejected ballots from King County that were not counted previously be reevaluated. A Pierce County Superior Court judge ruled that ballots should not be counted, but on December 22, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the rejected King County ballots should be counted. Of those 732 ballots, 566 were accepted as having valid signatures and were added to the existing total on December 23. The final results of the hand count, as of December 23, had Christine Gregoire ahead by 130 votes, solidifying the 10-vote lead she had before the previously rejected King County ballots were tabulated. On December 30, Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed certified Gregoire as the winner by 129 votes (he removed one vote which had been counted in Thurston County past the deadline).

The GOP claimed they knew of military voters overseas who had never received ballots from King County, saying that "wounded soldiers in Fallujah" had the right to vote and bringing forth veterans to confront King County election officials; King County election director Dean Logan disputed the charge, asserting that all the absentee ballots were sent on time, including ballots to military voters. The GOP then claimed that military voters registered in Snohomish County had not received ballots, and that King County officials allowed felons to vote. Election officials in Snohomish and King County disputed these latest charges as well. Republicans said they would use the courts to block any final election results, possibly even going to the federal courts by citing the equal protection clause in the US Constitution, or having a new vote. Gregoire's victory was certified in late December, making this the first time in Washington state history that a recount reversed an election result, and making Washington the first state with a female governor and two female US senators (Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell).

Republicans continued to dispute election accuracy in a case in the Superior Court for Chelan County, one of the most conservative counties in the state. They hoped to have Gregoire's election invalidated in time for a re-vote in 2006. On June 6, 2005, Judge John E. Bridges criticized election methods, noted that there was evidence that 1,678 votes had been illegally cast throughout the state, found that the only evidence submitted to show how those votes had been cast were sworn statements from four persons that they had voted for Rossi, subtracted those four votes from Rossi's total and upheld the election.This brought the official margin of victory for Gregoire to 133. Rossi did not appeal.

Washington Governor

State executive officials
State legislatures

Transportation policy

The first legislative session ended with Gregoire brokering new bipartisan transportation legislation.[2] The package included a 9.5-cent-a-gallon gas-tax increase to help repair many roads in Washington, particularly around Seattle area, such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Interstate 405 Interstate 405, and the Route 520 bridge. This proposal was initially rejected by the House but then passed with a re-vote the final day of the 2005 session.

The tax package was met with mixed reviews. While she was praised widely by Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate for her leadership skills regarding passing this deal, several state legislators disagreed with the merits of the tax. Their reasons included the heavy emphasis on funding Seattle area projects and the already high price of gas. An initiative to repeal the tax, Measure No. 912, was a part of the November 2005 ballot, but was rejected by the voters.

Gay rights

One notable bill that failed in the 2005 session but subsequently passed in the 2006 session was a gay civil rights bill, expanding the scope of protected classes to include sexual orientation and gender identity in cases of discrimination. The bill was signed by Gregoire on January 31, 2006.

Governor Gregoire signed a law on April 21, 2007 granting same-sex couples domestic partnership rights.

Online Gambling

On March 28, 2006, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 6613 to add prohibitions to the Gambling Act and the State Lottery regarding the use of the Internet in wagering and in selling lottery tickets, respectively. Creating Recreational use of Online Poker to be a Class C Felony within Washington State (note: Same felony as Child Pornography). [3]

2006 legislative session agenda

Gregoire's agenda for the 2006 legislative session includes:

  • implementing education reforms based on the non-partisan Washington Learns committee, including, [4]
    • early childhood education programs.
    • implementing international standards for math and the sciences.
    • increasing slots for high-demand fields, such as nursing sciences, engineering, and the teaching of math and sciences.
    • education needs to prepare for the global market.
    • accountability standards for evaluation of program effectiveness.
  • making school levy approval contingent on a majority of voter support, rather than a 60% super-majority.
  • assessing the fiscal viability of two Seattle transportation projects (replacing the Alaska Way Viaduct with a new viaduct or a tunnel and replacing the Route 520 Bridge.)
  • budgeting the $1.4 billion surplus in the state budget and setting aside a portion for a rainy day fund.
  • assisting those who can't afford the rising costs of home heating fuels. [5]
  • funding biofuel and biodiesel research.
  • funding emergency preparedness tsunami and seismic activity warnings systems.
  • investing in the cleanup of Puget Sound.
  • improving health care by tackling rising health care costs and lack of quality issues.


Gregoire began office with low approval ratings, however, her popularity has since recovered. A Survey USA poll taken in December, 2006 showed Gregoire with a 55% approval rating.

External links


  1. Gregoire aggressive in conflict; Democratic candidate for governor The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.), Oct. 20, 2004
  2. Gregoire: First the victory, now the triumphs Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 7, 2005 retrieved May 7, 2005
  3. 2006 Senate Bill 6613 - Banning Internet Gambling
  4. program on November 20, 2006, KUOW radio
  5. Breeze at her back - Interview with Chris Gregoire Evergreen Politics (blog) Retrieved November 20, 2006

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on 06/12/07.