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

$11,157

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

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital accepting adolescent patients

The facility is the first mental heallth unit in the county to offer in-patient services for children.

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Ian Terry / The Herald Westbound cars merge from Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast onto the trestle during the morning commute on Thursday, March 30 in Lake Stevens. Photo taken on 03302017
Pay a toll on U.S. 2 trestle? 10,000 say no on social media

A GOP lawmaker’s chart shows theoretical toll rates of up to $6.30 to cross the trestle one way.

Teen murder suspect captured — then escapes and is recaptured

The 16-year-old is one of at least three young suspects in the shooting death of an Everett woman.

Most Read