NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 passing statewide, losing in King, Whatcom, San Juan, Jefferson

The dead­line to turn in bal­lots has passed in Wash­ing­ton state, which means results have start­ed to become avail­able. Ini­tia­tive 976, Tim Eyman’s attempt to elim­i­nate bil­lions of dol­lars in bipar­ti­san, vot­er-approved trans­porta­tion fund­ing, is ahead in ear­ly returns, with just four of thir­ty-nine coun­ties in the no col­umn.

The ini­tial returns, tak­en togeth­er from all of the coun­ties that have released tab­u­la­tions thus far, resem­ble the ini­tial results for Ini­tia­tive 1366 four years ago. That was the last Tim Eyman mea­sure that appeared on Wash­ing­ton’s bal­lot.

Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling, the coali­tion that fought I‑976, is so far mus­ter­ing a 58% no vote in Jef­fer­son Coun­ty, a 55% no vote in King Coun­ty, a 52% no vote in What­com Coun­ty, and a % no vote in San Juan Coun­ty.

But to win, the coali­tion would need to per­form bet­ter in the big swing coun­ties, like Sno­homish, Pierce, Spokane, Kit­sap, What­com, and Clark coun­ties.

Right now, it’s los­ing all of them.

The yes vote in Sno­homish Coun­ty is cur­rent­ly 61%. In Pierce Coun­ty, it’s 67%. In Spokane Coun­ty, it’s 56%. Kit­sap Coun­ty is clos­er, with the yes vote there only 53%. In Thurston Coun­ty, the vote on Ini­tia­tive 976 is a vir­tu­al tie.

That all adds up to a lead of over one hun­dred thou­sand votes for Eyman.

That advan­tage will like­ly shrink in the days to come.

Late bal­lots often trend more pro­gres­sive.

With ear­ly elec­tion turnout rather low this year and skew­ing con­ser­v­a­tive, there’s rea­son to believe the mar­gins will nar­row.

Many unde­cid­ed vot­ers vot­ed late in this elec­tion and dropped off their bal­lots late Tues­day. We don’t know how those votes are going to break.

If those votes don’t break our way, or if they do but it’s not enough to change the result, there will almost cer­tain­ly be a legal chal­lenge.

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son (whose office pro­duced the I‑976 bal­lot title) will have to defend Ini­tia­tive 976 in court while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pros­e­cut­ing Eyman for break­ing cam­paign finance laws. The plain­tiffs will like­ly request an injunc­tion to pro­hib­it the ini­tia­tive from tak­ing effect while the chal­lenge is con­sid­ered.

The law­suit will con­tend that I‑976 vio­lates the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion.

To date, sev­en Eyman ini­tia­tives have been struck down in the by the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court — you can see our account­ing of failed Eyman ini­tia­tives through NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense’s handy Fail­ure Chart.

Although I‑976 is ahead, there are oth­er trans­porta­tion-relat­ed mea­sures on the bal­lot at the local lev­el that are far­ing much bet­ter.

Duvall, in the Sno­qualmie Val­ley, and Gig Har­bor, on the Kit­sap Penin­su­la, are both small­er towns on the edges of the Seat­tle metro area that are giv­ing enthu­si­as­tic sup­port to pro­posed tax increas­es to fund trans­porta­tion improve­ments.

While each city’s demo­graph­ics are chang­ing, both juris­dic­tions are con­sid­er­ably more con­ser­v­a­tive than the Puget Sound region as a whole.

Both munic­i­pal­i­ties pro­posed trans­porta­tion-relat­ed 0.2% increas­es to their munic­i­pal sales tax, tak­ing advan­tage of their author­i­ty to form trans­porta­tion ben­e­fit dis­tricts to raise rev­enue for road improve­ments.

Both levies are eas­i­ly pass­ing. Gig Har­bor’s levy cur­rent­ly leads with 57% of the vote, while Duval­l’s levy is favored by a whop­ping 68% of vot­ers vot­ing.

As bal­lots con­tin­ue to be count­ed in the com­ing weeks, a reminder that you can keep track of results both state-wide and local as they come in via NPI’s elec­tions engine on Pacif­ic NW Por­tal. We’ll also pub­lish addi­tion­al analy­sis of key races at both the state and local lev­els here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate.

Should I‑976 end up pass­ing, the effort to defeat it will con­tin­ue in the courts. Wash­ing­ton can­not afford for I‑976 to be imple­ment­ed. The mea­sure would increase traf­fic, elim­i­nate good pay­ing jobs, wors­en pol­lu­tion, lessen access to afford­able hous­ing, and make our tax code more inequitable.

On Novem­ber 17th, NPI will host a pan­el dis­cus­sion with leg­isla­tive lead­ers cen­tered on con­tin­u­ing the fight against I‑976 at our inau­gur­al Post­elec­tion Brunch. Any­one who sup­ports NPI’s work is wel­come to join us.

Tick­ets are $50 and are avail­able here.

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