Though she won't officially announce her re-election bid for several months, the 2008 Washington governor's race began in earnest yesterday when Gov. Chris Gregoire held a major fundraiser at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. The lunchtime event drew a crowd of more than a thousand, including Democratic lawmakers and lobbyists from both labor and business. Attendees dined on grilled chicken and salad and raised approximately $250,000. Add that to the more than a million bucks Gregoire already has on hand. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer headlined the event and started his speech by predicting Gregoire will win re-election with 68 percent of the vote. It was one of a few veiled and not-so-veiled references to Gregoire's razor-thin win over Republican Dino Rossi in 2004. Even Gregoire joked about her painful ascension to governor. She told the audience: "Let us learn from history, let us not repeat history." That line got a few laughs and some applause, but Gregoire felt the need to explain further. "For those of you that didn't understand what I meant, I don't need (a) 129-vote margin." It remains to be seen if 2008 offers up a Gregoire-Dino Rossi rematch. Certainly that's what Washington Republicans are hoping for and expecting. Rossi, the former state senator, says he'll announce his plans by the end of the year. In the meantime, he's traveling the state, touting his Washington Idea Bank. It's a way for citizens to offer up suggestions on how to make Washington better. The Gregoire campaign clearly thinks a Rossi rematch is a good possibility. In her most recent fundraising letter, Gregoire takes a swipe at him. She writes: "My previous opponent, as budget chair in the State Senate, cut healthcare for 70,000 children. His actions put him squarely out of the mainstream in our state." Republicans, too, are already trying out campaign lines. The Washington State Republican Party issued a news release timed to coincide with the Gregoire fundraiser. Its headline: "Gregoire's Record of Mismanagement as AG has continued as Governor." The news release re-hashes Gregoire's $20 million stumble as attorney general. It then blasts her handling of issues like replacement of Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct, the early release of felons, and the death of children under state supervision. The 2008 governor's race might still be a year-and-a-half away. But make no mistake, the campaign has commenced.