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Originally published April 28, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 28, 2008 at 10:32 PM

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Gregoire gets fundraising help from Richardson

Former presidential candidate Bill Richardson roused a Democratic crowd with calls to overhaul U.S. foreign policy and close Guantanamo...

The Associated Press

Former presidential candidate Bill Richardson roused a Democratic crowd with calls to overhaul U.S. foreign policy and close Guantanamo Bay, enthusiasm Gov. Christine Gregoire hopes will bring big checks for her re-election campaign.

Richardson, the New Mexico governor and globe-trotting negotiator, headlined a fundraising luncheon that drew an estimated 1,300 Democratic donors today. As Gregoire noted, the crowd was about 10 times the size of her razor-thin winning margin in 2004, which came after three vote counts and a six-month court challenge.

"This time, we're going to do it by 8:10 on election night, by a landslide," Gregoire told the cheering crowd.

The event was billed as the fundraising launch for Gregoire's 2008 campaign, although the governor already has raised about $4.7 million. Her opponent, Republican former state Sen. Dino Rossi, has raised about $3.8 million for the rematch. The two sides are expected to wage a record-setting $20 million campaign.

Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador, energy secretary and congressman, was fresh from a trip to South America on behalf of three Americans being held hostage by Colombian rebels. In years past, he has negotiated the release of Americans held in North Korea, Iraq and Sudan.

He gave high points to Gregoire's skills as a negotiator, saying the two Democrats first met when Richardson was President Clinton's energy chief and Gregoire was Washington's attorney general, agitating for more federal attention to the polluted Hanford nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington.

"After I got out of her headlock," Richardson said, "I did detect when I first met her that this was a national leader.

Gregoire campaign spokeswoman Debra Carnes said the fundraiser was expected to bring in about $300,000 before expenses.

The Rossi campaign did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday afternoon.

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