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Dueling Washington GOP Web Sites

By Russ Walker
Washington state's GOP chairman may think John McCain is the hands-down winner of Saturday's caucuses, but whoever runs www.wagop.org doesn't agree.

The site, which is labeled as the Washington State Republican Party's online home, has a link to a Feb. 9 press release titled, "Sen. McCain Wins Republican Precinct Caucuses in Washington State." But a quick glance up at the site's title bar (that line of text at the top of your Web browser that identifies the site you are viewing) and visitors see this: "THE RACE IS NOT OVER ~ MANY VOTES HAVE NOT BEEN COUNTED ~ THERE IS NO WINNER YET." On Saturday, the same title bar offered a simple pro-Mike Huckabee message and a reference to mikehuckabee.com.

So is there dissension in the ranks at the state party's HQ? After all, party chairman Luke Esser declared McCain the winner late Saturday night, with 87 percent of the caucus results tallied.

Turns out www.wagop.org isn't the official state party site after all. Patrick Bell, the party's communications director, said today that wagop.org is a "spoof site created by someone outside of Washington state." The genuine party site is www.wsrp.org. It looks the same -- only sans the "race is not over" title message.

So who's the mastermind behind wagop.org? A quick glance at Network Solutions' WhoIs database doesn't help much. The domain is registered through Wild West Domains Inc., a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based registrar. The actual site owner's information is not listed. A Huckabee campaign spokeswoman said that she was unaware of the site and that the campaign had nothing to do with it.

As for the Washington GOP caucus results, the Seattle Times reported today that the state party resumed counting on Sunday. With 93 percent of returns in, McCain continues to hold a narrow lead over Huckabee.

Bell said the party hopes to have more returns compiled by late afternoon today, but 100 percent of returns aren't expected until later this week.

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  February 11, 2008; 12:23 PM ET
Categories:  New Media  
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