In some respects very little has changed about Dixy Lee Ray, Washington's governor since Jan. 12 and possibly the nation's most successful political maverick.
The 62-year-old Democrat still wears socks to work the way she did when she headed the Atomic Energy Commission between 1973 and 1975. Occasionally, she even shows up for work wearing green sweat pants. Ray wears them, explained her sister, Marian Reid, a widow who shares the governor's mansion and acts as official hostages, "because they're comfortable."
Jacques, her small gray poodle, still curls up under the governor's desk each day.
When Ray leaves the 10-bedroom governor's mansion her real home is a compact trailer house parked on an island in Puget Sound. The trailer is just a bit larger than the 28-foot mobile home she occupied during her AEC tenure.
And when Ray was inaugurated, she scheduled 10 inaugural balls around the state and danced at every one.
The style is the same unorthodox one that startled Washington, D.C., when Ray was AEC chief and Assistant Secretary of State under Henry A. Kissinger. But here, in a state that has had only two governors in the last 20 years and both were low-key politicians, Ray's arrival has set off a chain reaction of outrage, awe and conclusion.
"It's a little embarrassing," said House Minority Leader Dwayne Berentson, a Republican. "She'll send up executive request bills that have already been introduced and when her aides say something she publicly contradicts them. She seems very inexperienced."
When Ray sent a 26-year-old intern to dress down a committee for tampering with one of her bills last week, political leaders from both parties spluttered angrily and accused her of meddling in the legislative process. "It's the end of the honeymoon," said a state senator.
The governor, known for her quick temper and sensitivity to criticism, shrugged off the legislators' anger in an interview after the incident.
"The first person to announce the end of my political honeymoon did it the day after I was inaugurated," Ray said. "God, I didn't even know we were engaged."
Ray has also battled with some members of the capitol press cors and alienated the state's environmental movement. One of her first acts was to declare a hostile political columnist persona non grata in her office. When the give-and-take at one of her weekly press conferences got too rough last month she stopped holding them. "She'll call another one when she has something to say," explained her press secretary, Duane Trecker.
The new governor's popularity with the voters may also be slipping slightly. Although she won a walkaway 140,000-vote victory in November, a telephone opinion survey published this week by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer showed respondents were just about evenly divided on her performance so far.
Part of the problem has been Ray's seeming addiction to making off-the-cuff remarks which have been picked up eagerly by the press here. During the height of the battle over Washington's nuclear referendum, for example, Ray, an outspoken supporter of nuclear development, announced, "A nuclear power plant is infinitely safer than eating because 300 people choke to death on food every year."
When President Carter appeared on television in a sweater and urged everyone to lower their thermostats to 65 degrees, Ray told reporters the President was "grandstanding," and declared the thermostat idea useless for true energy saving. She later recanted and urged state residents to cut their use of electricity.
Such statements make Trecker - generally accepted as one of Ray's better political advisers - wince. "It does make my job interesting," he said.
The most serious criticism of Ray so far, however, has more to do with substance than style. "She hasn't really been able to come up with good political advisers who know the state," said a Democratic legislator from Seattle. "No one has any idea what she is trying to do."
According to one senior aide, only four persons are responsible for 85 per cent of Ray's political advice and several of those advisers are political neophytes.
"She's going to learn fast that you can't run a governor's office out of your hip pocket," said Berentson.
Ray and her advisers acknowledge that she had not put together a legislative program. Instead, she has chosen to react to decisions as they come out of the legislature, a policy that had divided some of her top aides.
"She has no legislative program as such," said Trecker. "There are some people who can't come to grips with the concept that a governor can run and reform a state government outside of a legislative program."
During her campaign Ray stressed government accountability and prompised to cut spending and reform the state's antiquated tax structure. At her inaugural she described her incoming administraction as change, change, change.
She has shaken up state government somewhat by putting a freeze on hiring new state employees and a mass firing of all senior aides who served her Republican predecessor, Dan Evans.She has also proposed a two-year budget for 1977-79 that is $235.5 million less than the sone proposed by Evans.
"We must learn to say no," Ray told the legislators during her budget address last month.
The tough budget message was cheered by some legislators, but several skeptics have questioned whether Rays budget reforms can be carried out in a state as set in its political ways as Washington. They also noted that Ray's budget raised her personal staff payroll from $385,522, which is what Evans spent in his last year, to a proposed $520,000.
Some legislators are warning of problems when Ray attempts to sell voters her state income tax proposal. Washington is one of a handful of states without an income tax and voters turned down such proposals twice in the last six years. The last vote, in 1972, ran 78 per cent against the idea.
Ray, in an interview in her office here the other day, acknowledged that she had made some mistakes since she took office. "I brought in some federal preconceptions such as rigid separation of powers," she said. "Well, I'm learning," she said.
To master what her former campaign manager called "a masochistic system that expects you to step right in and be on top of everything," Ray has been spending long hours in on-the-job training. She works into the night either in the office or in the upstairs personal quarters of the mansion, taking breaks only when reruns of Star Trek, her favorite television program, are showing, or to read an occasional paperback mystery.
She said she doesn't mind the hours but she bristles at reports that her admininstration has not pulled together or shown any clear direction.
"If the entire legislature was brand new would they all be marching in time?" she asked. "I haven't even had the traditional 100 days and I'm being judged. What is it people want, instant perfection?"