In Soviet of Washington, votes cast you

Time was, conservatives called the state north of Oregon "the Soviet of Washington" based on its left-wing history. These days, we have Mike Huckabee comparing the state GOP's handling of their caucus to the USSR's election practices -- and actually kind of having a point.

To recap, during Huckabee's strong run over the weekend, he and John McCain were running neck and neck in Washington. Then, Huckabee pulled ahead. From there:

* The votes began being counted veeeeeeery sloooooooowly.

* State GOP chair Luke Esser abruptly called the race for McCain, despite the fact that McCain was leading by just a few hundred votes with 87 percent of the precincts reporting. Huckabee's supporters were furious.

* Responding to criticism, state GOP chair Esser said the following day that they were "trying" to get as "close as we can to 100 percent" of the vote counted. A paragon of democratic principle, that one.

* Then, observers began saying that the race probably didn't even meet caucus standards, and was more like a straw poll -- one reason Huckabee's lawyers got involved.

* The spin coming out was that Esser never meant to call the race, just to give "his analysis" (despite the strongly worded press release that contradicts that notion).

* Finally, with almost 100 percent of the votes counted (and substantial irregularities reported), McCain appears -- shockingly -- to have won the race. Huckabee's not so sure, and still plans to contest the election. Late update: Vladimir Putin is being called in as an independent election observer. "Seems fair to me," he is reported to have said before arriving in Washington state.

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