The real Eyman initiative was defeated yesterday

Initiative 900, Tim Eyman’s attempt to remain relevant, may have passed with misplaced support, but the real Eyman initiative – Initiative 912 – was being defeated by voters yesterday.

Tim Eyman did not sponsor Initiative 912. He was not involved in the signature drive and he didn’t really go out and campaign for the initiative. But he associated himself with the initiative, and put his credibility on the line again with its fate.

Last Monday, Eyman wrote an e-mail to his supporters, which he copied to the media (as he always does) urging his supporters to vote against the “elitist” opponents of Initiative 912. He called it “your one-in-a-million chance to humble powerful.”

It was actually voters’ one-in-a-million chance to hurt themselves, but voters didn’t do it. Instead, they voted Initiative 912 down.

Eyman and fellow I-912 proponents claim that the opposition was full of “elitists”, but that is entirely ridiculous. Initiative 912 failed because of the huge grassroots effort that was put together to fight it. Voters in neighborhoods throughout the state talked to each other and realized what was at stake.

The advertising campaign and all the money spent may have drawn the most attention. But in the end, I-912 did not fail because of “elitist” opposition – it failed because of strong grassroots opposition.

Voters have said “NO” to Initiative 912. So what has happened to Eyman’s credibility? It’s taken another hit. He gleefully proclaimed that the harder we fought against I-912, the greater the backlash would be – in other words, a strong campaign against 912 would result in its overwhelming passage.

So where was that backlash? It was nowhere to be found.

But it gets more embarrassing. In an e-mail dated September 26th, 2005, Eyman told his supporters and the media:

Same goes for I-912, the gas tax repeal initiative. Put a fork in it, it’s done. It’s going to be approved overwhelmingly in November. Why?  Because we’ve beaten this coalition of opponents (Big Business, Big Labor, politicians, and the press) year after year after year in these same tax battles. Even opponents know it’s over.

Tim Eyman was dead wrong. Initiative 912 did not pass. It has failed. The real Eyman initiative on the ballot this fall – the initiative that actually tried to repeal taxes – was defeated in a stunning victory.

Tim forgot one sizable group in the NO on I-912 coalition: the grassroots. Together with the business community, we have defeated Initiative 912. Union members, environmental activists, and Democratic Party precinct committee officers all helped beat back I-912. It’s a landmark victory. Even I-912 proponents (including Eyman) know it’s a landmark victory.

The election is over. Ballots are still being counted, but Initative 912 is finished. Tim Eyman, unfortunately, is not finished, although that’s not because his ideology is popular. Eyman is a demogogue dependent on special interest money to keep his initiative factory in production. I-900 was a product of that very factory. It made the ballot thanks to roughly half a million dollars from Michael Dunmire.

In that same e-mail, Eyman also wrote:

With I-912, inevitably approved this fall, voters will say NO to Queen Christine’s underhanded effort to sneak through a multi-billion tax increase when the voters clearly opposed it.  But of the $8.5 billion tax increase imposed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, I-912 only repeals $5.5 billion of it. “$30 Tabs, Round 3″ fulfills I-912’s mandate by repealing the remaining $3 billion tax increase.  It finishes the job that I-912 started.

Eyman needs to get out of the political forecasting business. He’s a failure when it comes to gauging what voters think.

Initiative 912 didn’t start any job or create any mandate for the anti-tax zealots. Instead, its failure vindicated Governor Christine Gregoire and state legislators for their courageous work in passing the 2005 transportation package. The voters have spoken: they support new taxes to pay for safer, less congested roads. They want to invest in transportation infrastructure.

If Eyman respects the voters’ decision, he’ll drop his plans for his 2006 initiative to repeal the rest of the package and move on. If he doesn’t, he will be exhibiting tremendous disrespect for the taxpayers of Washington State. He and his cohorts gambled on the passage of Initiative 912 and lost. They demanded that voters have a say. Voters have had their say, and they’ve put their stamp of approval on Olympia’s work.

The defeat of Initiative 912 is a watershed political event and a great victory. But Permanent Defense will continue to defend the 2005 transportation package until the attacks on it end. Twice the 2005 transportation package has been approved. Enough is enough. Voters have been clear: Leave this investment in our future alone. We’ll be waiting to see if Tim Eyman listens, but we’re not holding our breath.

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