The 2008 Washington gubernatorial race is shaping up as a rematch between Democrat Chris Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi.
But while the candidates may be the same as in 2004, their campaign cars are not. This year both Rossi and Gregoire plan to crisscross the state in hybrid SUVs.
For the 2004 campaign, Rossi had a Ford Explorer. This year he's campaigning in a Ford Escape Hybrid mini-SUV.
By the end of May, Gregoire will swap out her current state-leased Cadillac for a just-off-the-assembly-line Chevy Tahoe Hybrid full-sized SUV.
Taxpayers will pick up the tab for Gregoire's Tahoe (Cost: roughly $1,100 a month in lease payments.) That's because as a sitting governor, Gregoire is entitled to round-the-clock State Patrol protection. That includes being chauffeured by a state trooper in a vehicle that meets Patrol guidelines for safety and weight.
Gregoire won't pick up much in gas mileage by switching vehicles. According to www.fueleconomy.gov, the Tahoe Hybrid gets an average of 21 miles to the gallon, while the Gov's current Cadillac gets 18 mpg.
Rossi, though, is making more of a leap. According to the same Web site, a Ford Escape Hybrid gets an average of 28 mpg compared to 16 mpg for the Ford Explorer.