Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, July 21, 2006

P-I reports on Eyman's troubles

P-I reporter Chris McGann has an interesting article in this morning's paper about Tim Eyman's troubles with Initiative 917:
It looks as though Tim Eyman's much-touted [transportation cuts] initiative might not have enough signatures to make the November ballot.


This month, despite spending $336,000 on signature gathering for I-917 this year, Eyman filed just 266,008 signatures on the July 7 deadline, roughly 41,000 more than he needed to get the measure on the ballot.

That means his signature failure rate -- those signatures that are either duplicates or that are not from legal registered voters -- cannot exceed 15.4 percent. Eyman's track record indicates he is unlikely to make the cut.

Of the 14 signature drives Eyman has put his weight behind, he hasn't had a signature failure rate below 16 percent.

Washington Secretary of State Elections Director Nick Handy said the signature failure rate for Eyman's initiatives has ranged from 16.7 percent to 23 percent.
This is what we've been hearing, and despite the fact that the odds seem to be against Eyman, we're hardly giddy with excitement.

There's always the chance Initiative 917 makes the ballot after all - and if that happens, we have to ensure it is defeated.

McGann's editor said yesterday that Tim Eyman wouldn't return the P-I's phone calls, sending only a terse email. Not very surprising, of course. Eyman is apparently still clinging onto the position that the signatures he says he turned in that the Secretary of State doesn't have were somehow "pilfered".

McGann's article has some other interesting tidbits in it:
One aspect in particular does not bode well for Eyman: his reliance on paid signature gatherers.

Handy said there is a direct correlation between signature rejection rate and the use of paid signature gatherers -- the more signatures you pay for, the higher the rejection rate.
Gee, why could that be? Oh, maybe because the petitioner is just doing it to make a buck? They don't care who signs, so long as they get paid.

Volunteers are naturally going to be more interested in ensuring they get valid signatures from registered voters. They're investing in the campaign and don't want their efforts to be wasted.

McGann also quotes from University of Washington political communication professor John Gastil, who correctly notes several factors that are hurting interest and momentum for Eyman: initiative fatigue, the increasing cost of signature drives, and Eyman's shrinking base of donors (which has been getting smaller each year since he admitted taking campaign money for his own personal use).

McGann used the same word I put in my headline yesterday about I-917:
...the campaigns of opponents and supporters alike would be in limbo about how much money and energy to invest until the final weeks of the election.
That's for sure. It's a no-win situation. We don't want I-917 on the ballot. We'd rather it not have a shot at passage.

But since we don't know whether it will on the ballot until perhaps as late as the end of September - we have to prepare to fight it anyway. It's much better to be safe than sorry. If I-917 doesn't make it, then we'll have a pre-Election Day victory. It would be absolutely delightful to get an early triumph over at least one of the three right wing initiatives this year.

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