Candidates, campaigns play the trick-or-treat game

There’s been no lack of scare tactics and scary claims this election season. So on this Halloween eve, tear into a bag of candy as you nibble on a few of the bewitching maneuvers seen thus far by those trying to cast their spell on voters.

The masked man: Mukilteo’s Tim Eyman has paraded about in a gorilla outfit and donned a cardboard headpiece mimicking a red light camera. This fall, the author of Initiative 1125 may be wearing his most frightening costume ever: A fan of politicians.

It’s a mask he straps on when pitching the part of the measure putting the Legislature in charge of setting future bridge and highway tolls. When it comes to this task, he tells voters they must put their faith and trust in politicians — you know, the ones he’s vilified his entire career — rather than leave it in the hands of the citizens on the state Transportation Commission whom he dubs unelected bureaucrats.

Costume ball: Meanwhile, the politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and special interests opposing the initiative are wearing their own eerie masks bearing a strong likeness to Eyman. Yep, these folks, many of whose livelihoods are hooked up to the spigot of public money, are out telling voters that Initiative 1125 is bad because it will snatch power from citizens and put it in the hands of politicians.

Trick or treat? An extraordinary moment occurred on television sets in Snohomish County this spring when a political ad aired in which the candidate didn’t speak a word. Republican Mike Hope starred in the commercial. He’s seen sitting in a chair and staring into the camera for 30 seconds, never moving his lips until issuing a brief smile at the end. He wanted to show how good a listener he’ll be if elected Snohomish County executive and in days he’ll find out how many people heard the message.

A monster mash: Reardon sent out a most memorable mailer in which “Suspended!,” painted in Halloween orange, is stamped atop a picture of Hope in a police uniform. It’s all about Hope’s run-in with Mill Creek police a decade ago in which he received some unpaid time off from his bosses in the Seattle Police Department.

Fear factor I: Want to know what’s really been scary? The amount of money Costco is spending in the mega-battle over its booze initiative, I-1183. By the time it’s over, the company will probably shell out as much money per voter as it will to buy a bottle of liquor wholesale. One chunk went into a four-page mailer accusing opponents of “running a self-interested campaign of deception.” For good measure it has a photo of a man in a suit clutching a wad of $20 bills to symbolizing out-of-state distributors providing the bulk of funding to opponents.

Fear factor II: Protect Our Communities is out to make the public feel as unsafe as possible about the measure. On TV and in the mail, grim-looking firefighters describe a world in which more teens buy alcohol, more people drink it and more deaths will occur as a result if the measure passes. They also spotlight Costco’s record-setting spending. The strategy merges in a commercial in which the narrator tells voters to not let big corporations buy the election because “Our kids’ safety should never be for sale.”

That ad is titled “Don’t Get Fooled,” which is a good piece of advice when considering every item on this year’s ballot.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623 or

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