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Lee Rousso gives up governor race
Lee Rousso, Washington's most prominent supporter of poker players' rights, decided to drop out of the state's governor race this week.
The Tri-City Herald reported that Rousso decided to drop out of the race after U.S. Supreme Court ruling came down that changed how the primary system works in the state.
Rousso though he might be able to knock Governor Christine Gregoire out by using the state's pick-a-party primary.
Previously, the primary system sent the top candidate from each party to the general election. During the primary, voters also had the option to pick which party's ballot to vote with.
Rousso had counted on being able to garner as much as 20% of the Democratic vote, get support from the Libertarians and then convince Republicans to pick a Democratic ballot and vote for him.
However, in March the U.S. Supreme court ruling changed the primary to a "top-two" format, sending the top two vote-getters into the general election regardless of their party affiliations.
"Unfortunately, the August primary will now be held as a top-two primary, which means the crossover appeal is not logically viable," Rousso says on his Web site.
Rousso initially got involved in the governor race as a way to continue his fight to get the online gambling ban in Washington changed.
The online gambling ban was put in place in the state by Senate Bill 6613 in 2006. It was introduced in the state legislature in January of that year and was passed and signed into law by the governor by the end of March.
The law went into effect June 7, 2006, and it prohibits the use of the Internet and telecommunication devices to wager bets, sell lottery tickets or exchange information about gambling.
The bill also sets the penalty for these violations from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony, with violators facing up to 10 years in prison.
"While my campaign has been short - too short - it has been gratifying. Over these last few months I have heard from hundreds of citizens who are outraged by the way SB 6613 was rushed through the Legislature and signed by the Governor," Rousso said. "I continue to maintain that popular support for the law is approximately zero."
The end of Rousso's race for the governor spot does not mean the end of his quest to change the online gambling law in Washington.
"Even though I am dropping out of the political arena, I will continue to work to change the laws so that Internet poker players can enjoy the Great American Game from the privacy of their own home," Rousso wrote in his withdrawal statement.
Rousso believes that the online gambling ban fails to comply with the Wire Act passed by the federal government, which has never extended criminal liability to the players of the games. The state law makes it a felony for people to gamble online.
He is also accusing the state of imposing a ban on online gambling to protect its own gambling industry. That would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause forbidding individual states from passing protectionist laws against other states' business.
His constitutional challenge of the law is set for a hearing on April 25.
"Meanwhile, I encourage all my supporters to continue to fight the good fight," Rousso said. "We are going to win this battle. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday soon."