"Do you notice how she's always drawn to the children?" Tracy Prazo of the State Association of Electrical Workers asked. Her face was inches from the bus window, as she peered down at Gov. Christine Gregoire walking toward a small group of longshoremen. Behind the governor was a 120-foot-long wind turbine blade passing through the Port of Vancouver's Terminal 3 on its way from a factory in Denmark to wind farms in the Columbia River Gorge. After listening to a speech about green jobs, and giving a speech of her own, the governor trailed over to the only two children in the crowd. Prazo smiled, knowingly. "It's because she's a mommy." Gregoire has two daughters, Courtney and Michelle. As the youngest person on the bus (and also around the same age as Michelle), I wondered if I carried some sort of magnetic force that would allow me to interview the governor. That wasn't the case. But after asking for a few minutes of her time, the governor handed me a Red Bull and sat down in the seat next to me. I glanced at my question sheet and question one was about political strategy. But I realized what I really wanted to know about was how she balances family, what the 2004 recount felt like — I wanted a Barbara Walters interview (if only). I wanted to know about her children. She began with, "When I first thought about running for the state-wide offices, I decided I wasn't going to because I had two daughters." At the dinner table one evening, she broke that news to her family. Courtney, 13 years old at the time, stormed out of the room, up the stairs and slammed her bedroom door. When Gregoire asked what the problem was, Courtney said, "All this time you've told me there's nothing I can't do, but if I have two daughters, I can't run for public office." "That was really my mother's mothering coming through," Gregoire said. "Then when my daughter said what she said, that was me; my mothering coming through." Gregoire, with support from her family, went on to serve as the director of the Department of Ecology in 1988, fought the tobacco industry as attorney general in 1992 and won the gubernational election in 2004, by only a fraction of a percent to Republican Dino Rossi. In the week between Christmas and New Year's, she heard that she'd won the governor's seat. "I had no time to do what is usually done over several months, which is to appoint people as heads of departments and to buy a dress for the Inaugural Ball," Gregoire said. Then, Rossi filed a lawsuit. For six months, Republican leaders claimed there were enough disputed votes to change the outcome of the election and sued. Gregoire said she wouldn't wish that on any candidate. "I could have been cautious entering the session, but instead I thought, 'Whether I'm going to be governor for four months or four years, I will get through the darkest." Advisers thought the governor was taking too weighty political risks in session, claiming "no matter what happens with this lawsuit, you will hurt yourself come re-election time." She found that people wanted her decisiveness, which she describes as innate and probably thanks to her mother. Growing up, she encountered the idea that women could be either a wife or a school teacher, Gregoire said. Her mother, who raised Gregoire alone after leaving an abusive marriage prior to her daughter's birth, told her that hard work would get her anywhere. As a girl, she remembers sitting in a diner stool in Auburn, where her mother worked as a cook, and being lectured on the importance of education. She later graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in speech, which is no longer offered at the school. When asked what it is about Washingtonians that makes them apt to embrace female candidates, such as Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and herself, she theorizes that it has to do with Washington's historical roots. "We came out here on a wagon," Gregoire said. "Men and women had different goals, but they were working together as partners." Washington was the first state with 50% women in the legislature. Today, Gregoire is the first female to serve as attorney general and the second to serve as governor. Since Monday, Gregoire and Rossi have exchanged some harsh barbs, picking up where they left off after the contentious 2004 election. The rematch promises to be bitter and expensive, but Gregoire doesn't expect a recount this time. "I have a proven record of results," Gregoire said in this week's speeches.