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Published: Sunday, August 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The high cost of initiative campaigns

Washington can pretty much count on a multimillion-dollar battle on a statewide ballot measure every fall. This year is no exception. Supporters and opponents of Initiative 522, which deals with labeling of certain processed foods, already have pulled in around $4 million combined before the campaign ramps up. Will having millions assure victory? More often than not the side which shells out the most money succeeds, whether it's passing or defeating a measure. Here are some highlights of initiative campaign spending since 1973, when the state first required public disclosure.

Most spending in support

Regardless of outcome

1. $20,115,326
Initiative 1183 (2011)
Privatize liquor sales
$12,351,656 spent by opponents
Yes: 58.7% No: 41.3%

2. $16,042,629
Initiative 1107 (2010)
End sales tax on candy and soda
$426,828 spent by opponents
Yes: 60.4% No: 39.6%

3. $14,784,515
Referendum 74 (2012)
Same-sex marriage
$2,975,561 spent by opponents
Yes: 53.7% No: 46.3%

4. $11,401,371
Initiative 1240 (2012)
Charter schools
$724,167 spent by opponents
Yes: 50.7% No: 49.3%

5. $9,513,197
Initiative 330 (2005)
Healthcare liability reform
$6,168,557 spent by opponents
Yes: 43.3% No: 56.7%

6. $6,259,692*
Referendum 48 (1997)
Publicly financed sports stadiums
$729,747 spent by opponents
Yes: 51.1% No: 48.9%
* Excludes $4.2 million paid by Paul Allen for cost of the special election

Most opposition spending

Regardless of outcome

1. $12,351,656
Initiative 1183 (2011)
Privatize liquor sales
$20,115,326 spent by supporters
Yes: 58.7% No: 41.3%

2. $11,526,117
Referendum 67 (2007)
Insurance reform
$3,912,555 spent by supporters
Yes: 56.7% No: 43.3%

3. $9,170,339
Initiative 1100 (2010)
Privatize liquor sales
$6,062,834 spent by supporters
Yes: 46.6% No: 53.4%

4. $6,639,957
Initiative 892 (2004)
Expand non-tribal gambling
$1,063,839 spent by supporters
Yes: 38.5% No: 61.5%

5. $6,168,557
Initiative 330 (2005)
Health-care liability reform
$9,513,197 spent by supporters
Yes: 43.3% No: 56.7%

6. $6,349,842
Initiative 1098 (2010)
Establish state income tax
$6,423,302 spent by supporters
Yes: 35.9% No: 64.1%

Lowest spending for passage

Successful campaigns

1. $14,006
Initiative 316 (1975)
Mandatory death penalty for first-degree murder
$3,227 spent by opponents
Yes: 69.1% No: 30.9%

2. $20,865
Initiative 345 (1977)
Eliminate sales tax on food
$10,994 spent by opponents
Yes: 54.0% No: 46.0%

3. $46,433
Initiative 601 (1993)
Limit tax increases
$2,050,779 spent by opponents
Yes: 51.2% No: 48.8%

Least spent to defeat a measure

Initiative 729 (2000)
Charter schools
$3,250,695 spent by supporters
Yes: 48.2% No: 51.8%

Sources: State Public Disclosure Commission, Secretary of State

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