Huckabee Campaign Challenges Results of Washington Caucuses

(CBS)
From CBS News' Joy Lin:

RICHMOND, VA. -- All day, Mike Huckabee's campaign has been trying to learn about how the final 13 percent of the votes in the Washington state Republican caucuses would be counted. As of this afternoon, only 87 percent of the votes have been counted and CBS News has deemed the state too close to call.

Finally, Luke Esser, the chair of the state GOP party, returned the Huckabee campaign's call, saying the final results would be determined sometime within the week.

The only hitch? The state chairman had already declared John McCain the winner last night, with only a 242 vote lead. In a written statement last night, Esser said, "Congratulations to Sen. McCain for a hard-fought win, his second caucus victory in the 2008 presidential nomination process. And congratulations to Gov. Huckabee for his strong second-place finish."

Huckabee campaign lawyer Lauren Huckabee (daughter-in-law of the candidate), who is skeptical of the fairness, asked for a lawyer to monitor the resluts.

The state GOP denied the request and hung up on Lauren Huckabee, according to the campaign. Campaign adviser Ed Rollins will be sending lawyers to Olympia, scheduled to land this evening, to investigate the matter.

At a hastily arranged press conference in a hotel room, Rollins was steamed.

"You don't get to announce the votes until they are all counted. And obviously, by his attempts to project without any statistical data or even if he had statistical data, it's irrelevant: we're entitled to a fair, full count," Rollins said.

"Our lawyers attempted to contact him today, finally did so about ten minutes ago. He said, 'Well I don't know where the precincts, are, I just sort of did it. How dare Mike Huckabee challenge – he has to trust us. We're going to count the rest of the votes today in the office.'"

"We asked to have someone go in to the office with them and count the votes and he refused us. He said he would have to notify the other campaigns."

"I'm not accusing the McCain campaign of anything. I'm accusing the state party chairman of using very, very bad judgement. We are going to fully pursue this legally."

"When our lawyer asked them, again, 'will you say statistically, will you project, what were the precincts?', he said, 'well I don't know, I can't count that.' So, basically, he's making a guess [about the results]."

"I think it literally took away from our momentum…Going to the primaries here, everything is about momentum, so we are very disturbed by it."