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.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Surprise! Tim Eyman not planning on running initiative in 2011, will refile I-1053 in 2012

As he has done for the last several years, Tim Eyman staged a press conference in Secretary of State Sam Reed's office this morning to mark the beginning of initiative season. In the past, Eyman has used the press conference to announce (or re-announce) his initiative for the year. Unusually, that was not the case this time.

Instead of announcing a new scheme for this year, Eyman simply confirmed his intention to run a clone of Initiative 1053 in 2012.

"We may do another initiative besides this one, but we don't know that for sure. We know this one, for sure, we're going to spend the next two years organizing for," Eyman told KOMO's Keith Eldridge, one of the few reporters who attended his media event. (The Associated Press and KING TV also sent reporters, but that was about the extent of it. KING's camera crew only caught the middle of the press conference, and it appeared they were just shooting B-roll footage).

Why isn't Eyman planning on doing an initiative this year?

Our guess is it's probably because he hasn't been able to find seed money for any of the schemes he'd like to force a vote on (for instance, slashing vehicle fees, or gutting the state-run liquor stores, which voters just voted overwhelmingly to keep). See, Eyman needs big bucks to keep his initiative factory running, since he doesn't have a real grassroots base of support.

For years, Woodinville investment banker Michael Dunmire provided most of the cash for Eyman's coffers. But it appears — at long last — that he's tapped out. Dunmire did not contribute to Initiative 1053 last year, and Eyman evidently hasn't been able to convince him to turn the cash spigot back on, else he'd be attempting to qualify something for the ballot this year.

A true grassroots campaign actually does have to start years in advance if it wants to be successful, because qualifying a measure for the ballot requires a lot of work. You simply can't afford to be lazy... unless you know a millionaire or billionaire who can supply you with bucketfuls of money, so you can buy the signatures you need to force a vote on your initiative.

We've said for years that money greases the gears of Eyman's initiative factory. Tim's press conference today just proves our point. Without a powerful special interest on his side, he's just a bankrupt salesman, in every respect.

Naturally, his bravado remains undiminished. He had the audacity to set up a couple of his whiteboards in the middle of the rotunda — right over the state seal — shortly after his dog and pony show had concluded.

Predictably, nobody who showed up to listen to Eyman's Glenn Beck-style briefing asked a question that was even remotely challenging. The few reporters in attendance simply let Eyman ramble on about how terrible and evil our state government is, and draw on the whiteboards he'd brought.

Within a couple hours, the Associated Press had produced an obligatory six paragraph promotional blurb for Eyman, devoid of any opposition perspective, which the Seattle Times, Seattle P-I, and Olympian have all seen fit to put on their websites, for reasons I can't fathom.

That and whatever cameos KING and KOMO's producers decide to give Eyman on tonight's television broadcast appear to be extent of the coverage he'll get. I rather doubt either station will give Eyman an extended segment.

All he did was announce that he's doing the same initiative he did last year, but next year. Not even this year. My guess is that he'll get a few seconds of screen time and that'll be it, mercifully.


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