To be a player, Eyman needs to rethink methods, motives

Rarely can the lack of action trigger so much reaction as it did last week when Tim Eyman didn’t do something he so often does — turn in signatures for an initiative.

Word that the professional initiative promoter from Mukilteo failed to qualify his latest anti-tax concoction for the November ballot ignited an outburst online from those in the Puget Sound’s political punditry.

That’s because it’s been a few years since Eyman came up empty in his attempt to legislate through the ballot box.

His critics wistfully hope it is a sign of failures to come and an omen of his eventual exit from Washington’s main stage of politics.

Without question, Eyman has lost his bling and his brand of self-centered politics dressed up as populism no longer gives voice to public angst and anger as it once did.

But one setback isn’t likely to neuter Eyman’s influence — real and perceived — on the electorate or the electeds.

There are reasons for this year’s dud effort. He had a poorly conceived measure and he never rebuilt the bridge to business supporters he blew up last year.

This year’s offering, officially known as Initiative 1325, required lawmakers to endorse a constitutional amendment requiring tax increases be approved by a two-thirds majority and then to put it on the ballot for voters to ratify. If they didn’t, the state sales tax would be slashed from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent.

That’s a pretty complicated sell for someone with a clipboard standing outside a supermarket trying to get signatures.

And Eyman didn’t have many professional petitioners because the usual flow of dollars to pay for them from wealthy individuals, small businesses or major corporations has dried up. Eyman’s customary allies hadn’t forgiven him for 2013, when they believe he used some of their donations to push a measure they opposed.

Without the financial aid to hire petitioners, Eyman and his reputed “thousands of supporters” were on their own to get it done. And they didn’t.

“We worked really hard, but our signature drive for the 2/3-For-Taxes Constitutional Amendment fell short this year,” Eyman wrote in an email to supporters, without acknowledging how many signatures were gathered. “We’ll just have to work even harder next time.”

What “next time” looks like may determine whether Eyman effectuates a rebound to relevancy.

If he wants to maintain a statewide profile, he’ll need to make amends with his old allies. Without their wallets and their wisdom, Eyman’s ability to continue earning regular paydays will be put at risk.

Or Eyman could change course and focus on pushing ballot measures on the local level. He’s had success in fighting red-light cameras. There is no end to levies and taxes he could consider challenging on behalf of a citizenry which feels overtaxed.

That requires Eyman to rethink his methods, and his motives. Pushing initiatives in cities around the state isn’t easier, and pays a whole lot less than what he’s been doing most of the past 15 years.

If his “thousands of supporters throughout the state” are truly behind him, this may be their only way to ensure there isn’t another November without an Eyman measure on a ballot somewhere.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Young woman missing from Mukilteo found safe

She called her parents and told them she was at a museum in Seattle.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Video shows man suspected of attacking a woman in Edmonds

The man allegedly threw her on the ground, then ran away after the she began kicking and screaming.

Navy to put filter in Coupeville’s contaminated water system

Chemicals from firefighting foam was found in the town’s drinking water.

Officials to test sanity of suspect in Everett crime spree

He allegedly tried to rob and clobber a transit worker, then fled and struggled with police.

Katharine Graham, then CEO and chairwoman of the board of The Washington Post Co., looks over a copy of The Daily Herald with Larry Hanson, then The Herald’s publisher, during her visit to Everett on Sept. 20, 1984. The Washington Post Co. owned The Herald from 1978 until 2013. (Herald archives)
Everett’s brush with Katharine Graham, leader of ‘The Post’

Retired Herald publisher Larry Hanson recalls The Washington Post publisher’s visits.

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Families seek to change wrongful death law

A bill would allow or parents or siblings who wish to pursue a suit for an unmarried, childless adult.

Most Read