June 28th, 2023
A historic milestone: Nothing written by Tim Eyman will be on the 2023 statewide ballot
After more than two decades of determined advocacy, the Northwest Progressive Institute and its Permanent Defense project are celebrating a huge milestone this summer: the liberation of Washington’s statewide ballot from right wing ballot measures and Tim Eyman’s malicious anti-tax propaganda.
For the first time since 2006, voters across the Evergreen State won’t see anything written by Eyman when they open their November general election ballot packets this autumn. That’s because Eyman’s “advisory votes” (which were really push polls), have now joined Eyman’s initiative factory in the dustbin of state history.
When the July 7th deadline arrives in a few days to turn in signatures for 2023 initiatives to the people, Eyman will have nothing to turn in, for the fourth consecutive year, an unprecedented stretch for Eyman since he burst onto Washington’s political scene just prior to the new millennium.
It’s now been half a decade since Eyman last ran a successful signature drive for a statewide initiative or referendum. His last one was for I-976, in 2018.
Beginning at the end of the 1990s and lasting through the aughts, Eyman managed to qualify a measure to the statewide ballot almost every single year, with only a few interruptions. But thanks to Permanent Defense’s accountability and opposition work, Eyman has been forced to exit the once lucrative initiative business.
However, despite not being able to qualify any measures to the ballot in 2020, 2021, or 2022, Eyman still had a quasi-presence on the statewide ballot thanks to his “advisory votes” — pieces of right wing propaganda that some of his past initiatives required county elections officials to stick on the top of ballots at a cost of millions in our precious tax dollars. The propaganda pieces were automatically triggered whenever the Legislature passed a bill that increased revenue in some way.
Now, they’re gone too.
Senate Bill 5082, conceived by NPI and Senator Patty Kuderer, and also prime sponsored in the House by State Representative Amy Walen, was signed into law this past spring by Governor Jay Inslee, at a signing ceremony attended by NPI leadership, including NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve and Legislative Director Kathy Sakahara, who worked hard to bring the bill to fruition with the NPI staff and board. It takes effect next month. It permanently abolishes Eyman’s push polls and requires them to be replaced with a truthful, useful presentation about the state’s finances created by LEAP, with assistance from the Office of Financial Management.
The first of these annually-prepared presentations should become available to voters by August 15th as prescribed by the new law. Voters will be alerted to the presentation through links on official state websites and on a page in the voter’s pamphlet containing a quick response (QR) code and a website URL.
“It is extremely fitting that as we celebrate NPI’s twentieth anniversary this summer, we can declare the Tim Eyman error in Washington State history to be over,” said NPI’s executive director Andrew Villeneuve.
“Tim Eyman is no longer a force in Washington State politics. We’ll still see him show up at various public hearings and say mean things about people and ideas he doesn’t like, but he won’t have a presence on future ballots like he used to. Eyman’s initiative factory has now been dismantled and the destructive legacy of his past initiatives is being unwound with determined, patient advocacy. This is a hugely positive development for the people and communities of Washington State.”
Villeneuve pointed out that anyone going to Eyman’s Permanent Offense political committee website won’t find a Donate page anymore. That’s because Eyman is only fundraising for himself these days, not for any initiatives he wants to qualify. Eyman isn’t even pretending to try to qualify anything for the ballot, which is a fairly recent development.
No other right wing campaigns have succeeded in qualifying anything to the ballot or to the Legislature since the 2020 presidential election either.
Many initiatives and referenda have been filed by right wing sponsors during that timespan, but none have qualified.
“In the early 2000s, our team envisioned a future in which we in Washington would be liberated from the threat of destructive, deceptive right wing ballot measures that appear annually on our ballots. We’ve made it to that future,” said Villeneuve.
“It is a great feeling to have accomplished the goals established at the founding of our Permanent Defense project. When voters open their ballots this year, they won’t be asked if they want to defund our essential public services, or adopt policies that weaken protections for our LGBTQ+ community, or roll back police accountability legislation, just to name a few examples. And they won’t see any anti-tax propaganda, either. In years past, they would have.”
“There’s an old saying that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Despite our sustained success in liberating our ballots from harmful right wing ballot measures, we will keep Permanent Defense going. The project wouldn’t be living up to its name if we closed it down.”
“We anticipate that there may be times in the future when something bad does qualify for the statewide ballot, or the local ballot. If that should happen, Permanent Defense will be there to provide a first line of defense against it. We stand ready to provide blueprints for the formation of an effective, vigorous opposition campaign to protect Washington from any bad idea backed by the right wing.”