It's another scoop by onetime Associated Press political writer David Ammons: Republican Sam Reed has replaced Democrat Chris Gregoire as the governor of Washington, effective yesterday. With the dust of Election 2010 still settling around Reed's Secretary of State office, and with likely another testy recount or two to oversee, the Republican has been forced to take on the chores of Gregoire's job as well: In the wake of that Republican House-cleaning this week, she left town.
As Ammons - now Reed's press guy - reports on the SOS's office blog today:
It's bow-and-scrape time: Sam Reed, your humble Secretary of State, is Acting Governor. Ain't that something? Our Real Governor, Chris Gregoire, is off to Germany and Washington, D.C., on state business for most of a week.
Ordinarily, that would mean fellow Democrat Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, the second banana, would fill in. But he's gone, too. To China and India, like 13 time zones away. Good food and nice people, though. So Sam Sumner Reed to the rescue, so we aren't governor-less!
Ammons says that after Owens and Reed, the acting governorship line of succession leads to the state treasurer, then the state auditor, "and so on down to the state Janitor, we suppose."
Gregoire's official transfer-of-power letter tells Acting Governor Reed that he's been in charge since 11:15 a.m. yesterday, when Gregoire left Washington state airspace, and has the hammer until she touches back down at Sea-Tac at 8:40 p.m. next Monday.
Given the moment, it could be a risky trip. Before departing, the governor-in-exile lamented the failure of those tax-raising initiatives on Tuesday's ballot. "Just to get through the rest of the year," she said, "I've got to cut $55 million."
What if Gov. Reed takes a stab at it in her absence? And on Monday, shows up at the airport to tell Gregoire he found a way to balance the budget.
Bad news and good.
"Your office has been dissolved, and the mansion rented out to the state Republican party," he says. "But you are eligible for unemployment compensation!