From NBC/NJ's Matthew Berger
RICHMOND, Va. -- The Huckabee campaign is contesting the results of the
Washington caucus, claiming the state chairman declared McCain the
winner before all the votes were counted.
Chairman Ed Rollins told reporters Sunday that in addition to
delegates, the "dubious" announcement hurt Huckabee's momentum after
surprise wins in Kansas and Louisiana Saturday night.
is a very serious issue," Rollins told reporters at a hastily arranged
briefing in his hotel room. "Obviously, this is a game about, at this
point in time, about every delegate, every vote should count. And it's
also about perception."
Rollins said he was not accusing
the McCain campaign of anything, but said Washington Republican State
Party Chairman Luke Esser suspended voting with only 87 percent of the
votes counted, and then issued a press release declaring McCain the
victor. When Huckabee campaign officials reached Esser Sunday, he said
the rest of the votes would be counted today and refused requests for
the campaign to monitor the tallying, Rollins said, adding Esser said
the campaign should trust the party.
"At this point of
time, I want to make sure that every vote is counted, and I'm not
accusing anyone of mischief at this time; I'm accusing someone of bad
judgment," he said.
Attempts to contact Esser Sunday
were unsuccessful. Rollins said Esser claimed he did not know where in
the state the uncounted votes were from.
campaign said they would pursue legal avenues to have an accurate count
of the Washington caucuses. And Rollins said the effort was also a
warning shot to other states that might try to declare McCain the
victor before an accurate count.
"I think it's very
important that we go on record that we're gonna go after every single
delegate we are entitled to," he said. "And I think that every chairman
in the country should be on notice that this is an improper procedure,
and if you're gonna ask people to vote, you count the votes."
Rollins added the dubious counting hurt the perception of their wins Saturday.
a big difference in impact between our campaign winning three primaries
and caucuses yesterday as we go into one, the way reporting would have
been done, as opposed to two wins and one loss, and one loss which we
are now certainly questioning," he said.