Con artist Tim Eyman distributed an email missive this morning in which he revealed that he’s coming under pressure to run for Governor of Washington State as a Republican instead of as an independent candidate.
“I want your advice,” Eyman told his fans. “Ever since I announced, I’ve been hearing from more and more grassroots supporters asking me to run as a Republican. I’ve thought a lot about it, talked with my team, and after much discussion, I’m seriously considering it. I want to know what you think.”
“Send me an email and let me know what you think.. Please forward this to your family, friends, and co-workers,” Eyman added.
When Eyman stood before cameras to talk about his gubernatorial candidacy last year, he actually pulled out an email he had received from a local Republican Party organization and proceeded to mockingly read part of it before affirming that he would be running for governor as an independent.
Several Republicans reacted to Eyman’s move with annoyance and anger, including State Senator Phil Fortunato, who was already running for governor.
Republican State Party Chair Caleb Heimlich, however, was not among them.
Heimlich chose to respond to Eyman’s candidacy rather tactfully, declining to meaningfully criticize Eyman, whom Heimlich knows is popular with his precinct committee officers, just as neofascist Donald Trump is.
Before Eyman proclaimed that he was running as an independent, I suggested that his sudden gubernatorial ambitions might result in a cringeworthy Eyman/Trump ticket in 2020 for the Washington State Republican Party, which would be a real nadir for the party, once a bastion of progressive politics.
Given Eyman’s comments today, it looks like that scenario is still a possibility.
Eyman is a pathological liar, so we can’t know if he’s sincere about pivoting to run for governor as a Republican. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he is being courted behind the scenes to associate his campaign with the Republican brand.
Eyman is a Republican, through and through. He has been for years. He’s gone to the Republican National Convention from Washington as a delegate and as a guest of the state party chair. He regularly attends or speaks at Republican Party meetings. He participates in caucus sessions with Republican legislators.
Despite all this history as a Republican operative, Eyman still fancies himself as above partisan politics. He really wants to have it both ways.
“For two decades, with all the ballot measures I’ve promoted, I’ve always reached out to voters across the political spectrum. Whether it was a voter signing a petition or voting for our initiative, I didn’t ask for their party affiliation, I asked for their support. I’m running for Governor with that same mindset,” Eyman said in his email today, before asking his fans about declaring a party affiliation.
No independent has ever been elected Governor of Washington State, and doubtless Eyman has been told that. Running as a Republican might boost his odds, but it has been four decades since a Republican won a gubernatorial race in Washington State. The last Republican to win was the late John Spellman, who had experience as the King County Executive and came from the Rockefeller/Evans wing of the Republican Party, which is all but extinct now.
Elections can be unpredictable, there’s no question about that. But the deck will not be stacked in Eyman’s favor like it was last year with I‑976. History, public opinion, the electoral landscape… they are not on Eyman’s side.
Like Oregon’s Bill Sizemore in 1998, Eyman seems set to discover that running for governor is quite a different ballgame than running deceptive initiatives.