Longtime Washington State con artist Tim Eyman today interrupted yet another proceeding at which he had not been invited to speak, appearing at the Associated Press’ annual legislative preview to confront Governor Jay Inslee about the fate of Initiative 976, Eyman’s most recent con, which appeared on last November’s ballot.
Unlike his predecessors, Inslee has refused to capitulate to Eyman’s demands to roll over and make Eyman’s agenda his own following the passage of an Eyman measure at the ballot. That has made Eyman rather bitter and angry.
So Eyman showed up in Olympia prepared to instigate a confrontation with Inslee.
But the governor wasn’t having any of it.
Inslee reminded Eyman that the purpose of the legislative preview event is to allow journalists to ask questions of Washington State’s elected representatives.
Eyman is of course neither a journalist nor one of the people’s elected representatives, although Eyman now claims to be running for governor against Inslee, after years of saying he had no interest in seeking office.
When Eyman refused to sit down or stop talking, Inslee’s chief of staff David Postman stepped forward to admonish Eyman and tell him to stop being disruptive. Eyman tried to ignore Postman at first, but he eventually shut up and turned away. While he was yapping, Inslee took the opportunity to launch a zinger at him.
“Let me make a suggestion to you, Tim: You need to sit down. Just don’t steal that chair, okay,” Inslee said. “Just sit down on that chair and don’t steal it.”
This was, of course, a reference to Eyman’s infamous and inexplicable theft of an office chair from the Lacey Office Depot nearly one year ago.
Eventually, Eyman realized he was in danger of being escorted out by security, and he clammed up. As he sat down, Inslee took a parting shot at Eyman, directing him: “Please leave the chair when you leave. Thanks very much.”
At present, as we’ve previously reported, Eyman’s Initiative 976 is on hold, blocked from being implemented by an injunction issued by King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson and upheld by the Washington State Supreme Court.
The Department of Licensing is still collecting the taxes and fees that I‑976 attempted to repeal, but per an instruction from the governor’s office, the money is being held in escrow for the time being. Ostensibly, that escrow situation is what Eyman claimed to be asking about today when he interrupted Inslee’s press conference. But I think Eyman simply wanted to make a scene.
Eyman has an insatiable need for attention, just like his idol Donald Trump, and when he’s not the star of the show, he hijacks the proceedings so that he can claim the spotlight for as long as he thinks people will tolerate his disruptive antics.
A few days ago, Eyman claimed to be weighing whether to run for governor as a Republican instead of an independent. He says he has yet to make a decision, but no doubt is being courted by Republicans to identify as an R in his campaign.
A Crosscut/Elway poll released today (PDF) found that 46% of Washington voters surveyed favored Inslee in the 2020 gubernatorial race, while a measly 7% favored Eyman. (The poll has a margin of error of +/- 5%).
Other right wing challengers to Inslee fared even worse. Republic police chief Loren Culp was favored by only 4% of respondents, while another 4% favored white supremacist state senator Phil Fortunato. 5% expressed a preference for former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed. 34% said they were undecided.
Governor Inslee certainly cannot take his reelection for granted, but at this point, it does not look like Tim Eyman or any of the other declared candidates would give him much of a challenge. (Last fall, former U.S. Representative Dave Reichert declined the Washington State Republican Party’s invitation to challenge Inslee.)
Despite possessing much more name recognition than either Fortunato or Culp, Eyman barely garnered more support than they did in the Elway Poll.
If Eyman gets pummeled, it would not be the first time a purveyor of destructive ballot measures was foiled in a gubernatorial bid by Pacific Northwest voters.
In 1998, Eyman’s Oregon equivalent, Bill Sizemore, ran for governor as the Republican nominee and was soundly trounced by Democratic incumbent John Kitzhaber. Sizemore received just thirty percent of the vote and lost in every single county in the state except for Malheur County. In the twenty-two years since then, there hasn’t been a gubernatorial race in Oregon that lopsided.