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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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February 10, 2008 10:27 AM

Huckabee questions state GOP caucus count

Posted by David Postman

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says something weird happened with the count of Republican delegates in yesterday’s caucus. Huckabee was on NBC’s Meet the Press this morning. As he was talking about his strong showing in yesterday’s contests, he said about the caucus here:

Washington state, it's not quite yet over; still too close to call.

Moderator Tim Russert: Well, the party has declared it over.

Huckabee: They have, but there's some weird things. We're, we're looking at some legal issues up there, and so we're not ready to concede that one until we understand how...

That was all he said on the program and I have not been able to reach anyone at the campaign. But the campaign’s official blog also raises question about the GOP vote count:

The Washington State GOP, with 87.2 percent reporting, discontinued the counting process. We are looking into the matter. We are committed to making certain EVERY vote is counted. We will keep you posted.

As votes were tallied yesterday by the state Republican Party, Sen. John McCain led in an early count, Huckabee led briefly later in the night and then at 11:30 p.m., state party chairman Luke Esser declared McCain the winner.

But there was a razor thin margin between McCain, with 25.5 percent of delegates, and Huckabee, with 23.7 percent, and there was still about 13 percent of precincts around the state that had yet to be counted.
Huckabee supporters started to wonder what was happening last night. Lucas Roebuck with the unofficial Huckabee group, wondered why counting had stopped, and then started again.

Last night there were some people who thought the way Washington returns came down was fishy. There’s nothing factual at this point, but there certainly was some suspicion.

Others wondered about it, too. At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall says:

Now, I think it would be borderline for a media organization to declare one candidate a winner when the margin separating first and second was 1.8% with 13% of the results still uncounted. But for the officials holding the election to declare the result on that basis is simply bizarre. But that's what they did.

MORE: You can see from comments at Huckabee’s blog that his supporters are angry and suspicious. They’ve begun campaigns to pressure Esser to count all the votes before declaring a winner. They’re publicizing e-mail addresses and phone numbers for all state Republican Party officials. Here’s one commenter’s e-mail to Esser:

I believe that with God all things are possible and it is not right to have 12.8% of the vote be disenfranchised - those people matter - those people are voters too - the count is so close it could change the outcome - for all parties involved and the creditability of Washington state on the line - please do the right thing and let all of your votes count - again we the people of the United States of America are watching and won't stop until ALL votes are counted for ALL the people 100% of them.

Thank you for your time and consideration - I pray that you will do the right thing and not cause a shadow of doubt and cloud peoples judgement on the state of Washington. God bless you.

Elizabeth Christian citizen of the USA and active VOTER

This commenter draws parallels between yesterday’s caucus count and Washington’s disputed 2004 gubernatorial election:

Everyone please email or call Luke Esser, Chairman to keep counting here in Washington. I can't imagine why they would stop. It still isn't over; we have the Primaries on the 19th. The turn out yesterday at the Caucuses was tremendous. We must keep up the momentum and not become like the Democrats. Look how our Governor was elected. Our prayers continue for this Campaign and for Mike Huckabee to WIN! Our voices MUST be heard and our votes MUST be counted. Here is his contact information. ~Lisa

And “Quilter for Huckabee” was raising the prospect of a recount:

By all means count all the votes!!

And if it's still as close as it stands right now, Count them all again!!

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