King County Executive Gary Locke stood with his wife and other family members in front of hundreds of supporters at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle last night to accept his election as Governor of Washington. Sixty percent of the state’s voters cast their lots with Locke, making his election a decisive victory over his opponent, Republican Ellen Craswell. Locke, who took the stage at about 10:30 p.m. , more than two hours after his victory had been announced to the crowd, told constituents that it was their night to celebrate.
In his acceptance speech, Locke reaffirmed his commitment to the development of education, which has been top priority in his campaign. He repeated his slogan, “Education is the great equalizer,” even having the crowd say the words with him. He also emphasized that he feels Washington voters and politicians should lay aside their political partisanship in order to more effectively deal with the issues facing Washington today.
“We must lower our rhetoric and raise our commitment to Washington,” he said. “The issues facing our state have nothing to do with partisan politics…Let’s make this a time of bipartisan cooperation.”
Locke read statements written by children which listed actions they would take if they were governor, say, “These children’s’ words are much better than mine.” Locke highlighted the needs of Washington children in his acceptance speech. “Our children make it our social and economic duty to improve our public schools,” he said. “Nine-year-olds should not have to worry about guns in the classroom.”
Before he closed his 15-minute acceptance speech, Locke spoke about the importance of his ethnicity. As an Asian American, Locke said he felt his election signified a greater acceptance ethnic diversity in Washington. “We can share this day with all the ethnic groups across America,” Locke said. “What this shows is that more and more member of ethnic groups are taking office and participating in the government of this great country. My victory is testimony that the great American dream can still be achieved.”
Ken Alhadeff, a member of the steering committee for Gary Locke’s campaign, did the majority of announcing at the event. In a moment when he wasn’t on stage, Alhadeff expressed his enthusiastic support for Locke’s victory. “I think the people’s passions are becoming a reality, Alhadeff said.
Supporters in the crowd praised Locke after his victory was announced. Seattle banker Jesse Tam said, “He won’t restrict the potential of this state. He said he predicts Locke will be a champion of all ethnic groups and cultural groups, observing, “He will not only represent Asian Americans groups, but he can and will accept diversity. Washington is becoming a very diverse state.”
Tam also said he thinks Locke sets a good example for young members of ethnic minorities, stating I think he’s always been a role model for young Asian Americans.” When asked if he would support Locke’s possible bid for the presidency, Tam said, “Absolutely. I’d like to see him go all the way.”
About 50 of Locke’s family member, mostly from California, came to Seattle to support him during the election. Diane Locke, his aunt, was at the celebration rally. She said she hopes Locke can relax for a little bit after a long campaign. “I think he’s a little bit tired,” she said. “But he always gets his energy up,” she added. “We’re excited, and we’re very proud of him. We know he’ll live up to all his promises.