State called too soon, Huckabee camp says

From a Times Staff Writer

The campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called Sunday for a review of the vote count in this weekend’s GOP caucuses in Washington state, saying that Arizona Sen. John McCain was declared the winner prematurely.

Ed Rollins, Huckabee’s campaign chairman, said in a news release that it was “very unfortunate that the Washington state party chairman, Luke Esser, chose to call the race for John McCain after only 87% of the vote was counted.”

State GOP officials said Saturday night that McCain beat the former Arkansas governor by less than 2 percentage points.

They resumed their count Sunday, but officials declined to comment.


A senior advisor to Huckabee, James P. Pinkerton, said that the resumption of the count did not satisfy the campaign’s concerns and that the campaign still wanted the matter reviewed.

“We have no idea who will win when all the votes are counted,” he said, adding: “You just don’t stop an election when it’s a close election.”

Pinkerton said: “We believe that it was very damaging to our campaign to announce a defeat when the evidence didn’t justify that.”

There is no evidence of other significant irregularities in the vote count, and the campaign is not accusing McCain’s camp of any wrongdoing, he said.

A McCain representative declined to comment on the issue.