On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews failed to question Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman's baseless assertion that illegal votes helped Democrats win the Washington state gubernatorial election.
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On the June 7 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews failed to question Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman's assertion that illegal votes helped Democrats win the Washington state gubernatorial election. During a discussion about the race for California's 50th Congressional District, in which Republicans claimed that Democratic candidate Francine Busby had encouraged illegal immigrants to vote, Mehlman said "it sounds like [Busby] may have been an adviser to that Washington state candidate for governor." Mehlman was apparently referring to Republican accusations that illegal votes had been cast for Democrat Christine Gregoire, who defeated Republican Dino Rossi in the Washington governor's race in 2004. Matthews allowed Mehlman's reference to go unchallenged. In fact, the judge presiding over the Republican challenge of Gregoire's victory found that Republicans had not proved that even a single illegal vote had been cast for Gregoire.
Later in the program, Matthews declared, "[i]f I were writing the Republican platform right now, I would take that quote" from Busby "and say, 'The Democratic Party believes in voting illegal immigrants to get more votes.' "
Contrary to Mehlman's suggestion that Gregoire owed her victory to illegal votes, the county superior court judge in the case "found that the Republicans failed to prove that Gregoire received one illegal vote among those improperly cast," according to a June 6, 2005, Associated Press article:
In his ruling, [Judge John] Bridges said the GOP failed to make the case for any deliberate, widespread fraud. He rejected the GOP's argument that an analytical technique called "proportional deduction" showed that most of the illegal votes cast in the election went to Gregoire. He also held that even using Republicans' proposed analytical technique, Gregoire still won.
The judge found that the Republicans failed to prove that Gregoire received one illegal vote among those improperly cast. In fact, he said, the only "clear and convincing" evidence he saw was the statements of four felons who said they voted for Rossi and one who said he cast a ballot for a Libertarian candidate.
As Media Matters for America has documented, Matthews has referred to Mehlman as "Kenny Boy" and said Mehlman was "very smart."
From the June 7 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: How did you manage to get Francine Busby the Democratic nomination in that seat?
MEHLMAN: We didn't -- we wouldn't have anything to do with that, but look --
MATTHEWS: What did you make -- we just showed the tape, David Shuster just showed that tape of a woman candidate in the United States openly advising people in this country illegally to vote illegally.
MEHLMAN: It sounds like she may have been an adviser to that Washington state candidate for governor or some other places around the country where this has happened in other cases with Democrats.
But the fact is, one thing we know, the American people believe that legal voters should vote and they believe that their right to vote ought to be protected from people that don't have the right to vote.
MATTHEWS: This woman, this candidate of the Democratic Party came out and told Hispanic voters go ahead and vote, you don't need papers. She was encouraging illegal voting right on -- we heard it on the mike.
CHARLIE COOK [editor of the newsletter The Cook Political Report]: Either it encouraged it or it sounded awfully close to it, but it was a stupid thing to say. And to be honest, she was running basically even, even slightly ahead in the polls going into that statement. Frankly, I think it blew the race wide open.
MATTHEWS: Hey, you're being kind. She said you don't need papers. What else could she have meant?
COOK: Oh, no, no, no, no, I'm just, you know.
MATTHEWS: She was urging people to break the law. They are breaking law getting in the country. Now she says break the law again by voting, and she's carrying the banner of the Democratic Party.
COOK: It was a stupid thing to say.
MATTHEWS: She's running again in November.
COOK: Here's the danger for Democrats. This is the best political mood for them since Watergate. And yet, they don't have that many really good candidates around the country. They've got a lot of people that are fairly inexperienced candidates, like Francine Busby, who are capable of screwing up even when they've got a golden opportunity to win. And you just saw it.
MATTHEWS: Hey, look. If I were writing the Republican platform right now, I'd take that quote from her on tape and use it in all those races out there and say, "The Democratic Party believes in voting illegal immigrants to get more votes."