As of next Saturday, we will be one month ahead of the August Top Two election and four months ahead of the November general election, which this year fall on the fifth days of each month. Because July 5th is a Saturday, and because July 4th is a holiday, that means the deadline for submitting signatures for an initiative to the people is July 3rd — one week from today, at 5 PM sharp.
So far, according to the Secretary of State’s office, only two campaigns have made appointments to turn in signatures. The I‑1351 campaign, spearheaded by the Washington Education Association, plans to turn in signatures for their Class Size Counts initiative on Wednesday, July 2nd at 10:30 AM. The I‑1329 campaign, backed by WAmend, is planning to come in on Thursday, July 3rd at 2 PM.
Eyman launched I‑1325 back in January and has been attempting to gather signatures for over five months. In years past, he has made an appointment to turn in signatures by now, but he hasn’t done so this time, presumably because he is well short of the number he needs to qualify I‑1325.
Eyman’s failure to make an appointment is another indication that I‑1325 is on the verge of failing. On Tuesday, NPI’s Permanent Defense released its assessment of the I‑1325 signature drive, after having made a significant effort to track it for many months. The assessment concluded that Eyman’s failure to find a wealthy benefactor to pour money into his coffers had doomed I‑1325.
Eyman has been reliant on paid signature gathering crews to get onto the ballot for nearly his entire career in politics. His initiative factory simply can’t operate without big bucks. Eyman goes to great lengths to pretend that that he is the leader of some big conservative grassroots network, but the reality is, he’d have been out of business long ago were it not for rich backers like Michael Dunmire, Kemper Freeman, Jr., British Petroleum (BP), ConocoPhillips, and Tesoro.
I‑1325’s demise would be a big deal; it would guarantee an Eyman-free November for the first time in eight years, which would be a very good thing for Washington. Amusingly, in 2006, Eyman had the money to buy his way onto the ballot, but his campaign came up short due to his own incompetence.
There’s only been one other year in which Eyman didn’t make the ballot because he didn’t have a wealthy benefactor. That was 2003, when he tried to qualify I‑807, the first of his I‑601 clones. 2003 was also the year that NPI was founded.
With no Eyman initiative and no statewide race for elected office, the 2014 ballot will look very different than that of past election cycles.
There are already two initiatives headed for the November ballot, and both pertain to guns: I‑591 and I‑594. NPI opposes the former and supports the latter.
The two initiatives are basically the inverse of each other. I‑594, backed by the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, would require background checks for private gun sales, including guns sold at gun shows and over the Internet. I‑591 would prevent background checks from being expanded beyond what federal law requires, thus keeping the gun show and Internet loopholes in place.
The Class Size Counts campaign is likely to make the ballot as well; it’s well organized and we hear it is within reach of its signature gathering goals. Though the backers of I‑1329 have made an appointment to turn in signatures, as of last week, they had not yet gathered half of what they need to make the ballot.
It had seemed earlier this month that a fourth initiative, I‑1356, would also be headed to the ballot. Backed by the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and Seattle Children’s, I‑1356 would have raised tobacco taxes and sold bonds to finance cancer research.
State Treasurer Jim McIntire expressed serious concerns with the initiative, and the sponsoring organizations ultimately decided to pull the plug, despite having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on signature gathering.
The demise of I‑1356, I‑1351, and I‑1325 means that we’ll likely be seeing just three initiatives on our ballot: one related to class size and two to guns. No referenda or constitutional amendments will appear on the ballot. Aside from the debate over background checks on gun sales, the focus is likely to be on the state Senate races. The Democratic Party is mounting a major effort to retake the Washington State Senate, which Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon handed to the Republicans following the 2012 presidential election.
The Democrats need to win two of the competitive Senate races to claim an outright majority. Tim Sheldon is seeking reelection, but Rodney Tom has bowed out in NPI’s home district. As we have previously reported, his seat is almost certain to be won by Democratic rising star Cyrus Habib. Habib faces only token opposition.
Democrats are going after several Republican incumbents with strong candidates: Matt Isenhower is challenging Andy Hill in the 45th, Tami Green is going after Steve O’Ban in the 28th, and Rich Cowan is running against Michael Baumgartner in the 5th. Elsewhere, Judy Arbogast is challenging Jan Angel in the 26th, Irene Bowling is stepping up against Sheldon in the 35th, and Seth Fleetwood is trying to knock out Doug Ericksen in the 42nd. Republicans, meanwhile, are hoping to capture the 30th with Mark Miloscia, while Democrats are trying to retain it with Shari Song.