Thirteen Years: Statement from the Founder

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its thirteenth anniversary, marking one hundred and fifty-six months of continuous operation. Since going live on February 15th, 2002, PD has steadfastly provided the Union’s Forty-Second State with badly needed, year-round opposition to destructive right wing initiatives – chiefly those sponsored by Tim Eyman.

As its name implies, it has a simple, vital protective mission: Maintain a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of Washington.

Permanent Defense: Thirteen YearsOver the span of its thirteen-year existence, PD has organized opposition to over two dozen right wing initiatives, working cooperatively with other citizens and organizations to build strong and diverse ballot coalitions capable of connecting with voters. It hasn’t been easy work; not every effort has been successful.

Happily, though, most of the campaigns Permanent Defense has been a part of have ended in victory. That’s something to be very proud of.

Prior to PD’s founding, as we first noted three years ago when PD was celebrating its tenth anniversary, Tim Eyman was getting an initiative past the voters every year. Since PD was founded, however, Eyman has had no consecutive victories at the ballot. His record since 2002 has been marked by consecutive defeats instead.

We’ve made this point on past anniversaries, but it’s always worth emphasizing.

Diving a little deeper, we can quantity Permanent Defense’s successes with some numbers. Over the course of thirteen years, Permanent Defense and NPI have opposed twenty-eight right wing initiatives, including sixteen sponsored by Tim Eyman. Six of those twenty-eight did not make the ballot; fourteen more were defeated by voters.

NPI and Permanent Defense have also been involved in several referendum campaigns. Most of those have also ended in success, notably R-55 (2004), R-67 (2007), R-71 (2009), and R-74 (2012). A couple others have not.

Although we’ve been successful in more than two-thirds of our defensive campaigns, the other side still has a batting average of over .280, to borrow a widely-understood metric from baseball.  That’s an average most baseball players would be happy with. (For those curious, the MLB league-wide batting average for 2014 was .250). Unless we take advantage of our own opportunities to go to the plate and drive in runs, we’ll always be behind. Defense is important, but offense is what wins games.

Politics may not be a sport – real lives are at stake, after all – but the same principle applies. Permanent Defense’s work is important, but going on offense is more important still. That is why, for almost all of its history, Permanent Defense has been part of something larger: the Northwest Progressive Institute. NPI is working to help progressives learn to go on offense, while ensuring that through PD, Tim Eyman’s initiative factory continues to get the year-round opposition it deserves.

And Permanent Defense has been thriving. Its thirteenth year went incredibly well.

At this time last year, Tim Eyman was trying to qualify a Ted Cruz-inspired scheme to blackmail the Legislature into passing a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue. Eyman was unable to find a wealthy benefactor to finance a signature drive for I-1325, and it thankfully didn’t make the ballot.

After I-1325 crashed and burned, Eyman tried to convince the business community (which he had betrayed in 2012) to give him money to front a new statewide initiative to prohibit cities like SeaTac and Seattle from setting their own minimum wages.

However, as with I-1325, Eyman could not find any wealthy benefactors willing to finance a signature drive. He did receive some seed money, in the form of two $50,000 contributions from Seattle Republicans Faye Garneau and Suzie Burke, plus a smaller contribution from Don Root, but his appeals for funds otherwise went unanswered.

The last time that two successive Eyman schemes failed to qualify for the ballot was 2006, eight years ago. That was also the last time that Washington enjoyed a general election ballot free of any Eyman initiatives.

The 2014 midterms may have yielded some awful results, particularly in other states, but Washington bucked the national trend with a progressive ballot sweep. Initiatives to lower class size and make background checks on gun sales universal were approved, while an initiative that attempted to thwart universal background checks was defeated.

And that wasn’t all. Voters also denied Eyman ammunition for additional attacks on legislators by voting “Maintained” on the two unconstitutional advisory votes that appeared on the ballot.

I-1325’s failure last year so disappointed Eyman that he has resolved to try to qualify a measure that is almost identical to the 2016 ballot: I-1366.

Like I-1325, I-1366 would wipe out a billion dollars a year in funding for schools and other vital public services if the Legislature does not pass a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue. It’s the worst scheme Eyman has ever come up with, and that’s saying something.

Eyman has still apparently not found a wealthy benefactor to put money behind this awful idea, so he’s decided to take out a mortgage on his house to fund a signature drive for the time being. Eyman is spending $150,000 in borrowed money to employ paid signature gatherers to collect signatures for I-1366 for the next few weeks.

In the past, Eyman has been able to find a wealthy benefactor to finance his initiative factory when he needed one. We are therefore assuming that I-1366 will be on the ballot. If it meets the same fate as I-1325, all well and good, but we can’t afford to wait and hope that Eyman falls short. I-1366 is incredibly destructive and it needs opposition now. We will provide that early opposition and ask other organizations to join us in building a strong coalition to defeat I-1366.  To do that, we need your help.

  • If you are not a member of the Northwest Progressive Institute, we urge you to become one. Members are the backbone of NPI’s supporter community, providing the time, talent, and treasure that makes NPI’s work possible.
  • If you see a petitioner collecting signatures for I-1366, we ask that you report your experience immediately so we can track Eyman’s signature drive.
  • And if you are free on the evening of April 10th, 2015, we encourage you to join us for NPI’s seventh Spring Fundraising Gala, where we will explain what we’re doing to mobilize opposition to I-1366.

Through perseverance and hard work, we have won many victories over these past thirteen years. Tim Eyman may be relentless, but so are we. We don’t give in and we don’t give up, because our Constitution and our commonwealth need safeguarding.

We need this fighting spirit to be contagious. Join us in helping make it so.

Here’s to a great fourteenth year for Permanent Defense.

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Permanent Defense works to protect Washington by building a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of the Evergreen State — like Tim Eyman's initiative factory. Learn more.

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