Con artist Tim Eyman declared yesterday that henceforth, he will be running for Washington State’s top position as a Republican, rather than as an independent, to the surprise and astonishment of pretty much nobody.
In a long, rambling, Trump-like speech delivered in Yakima to an adoring group of fans, Eyman excoriated his political adversaries, projected his own faults onto Democrats, and argued that Washingtonians are sick of one party rule in the statehouse – even though Washingtonians enthusiastically voted for one party rule as recently as fifteen months ago, in the 2018 midterms.
Democrats have now won nine straight gubernatorial elections, and as Jay Inslee goes for a third term, Eyman figures he’s got what it takes to break that streak.
But the data suggests otherwise.
A recent SurveyUSA poll found that Eyman was better known than Inslee’s other insignificant Republican challengers, but not by much.
Eyman only received 11% support in that survey — which was slightly better than the 7% he received in a prior statewide poll conducted by Elway Research for Crosscut/KCTS9, but still woefully anemic for a statewide candidate.
By contrast, Republican Bill Bryant — Inslee’s last opponent, in 2016 — garnered 34% and 30% in statewide surveys taken in 2015. That’s over three times as much support as voters have expressed for Eyman in polls this cycle.
And Bryant went on to lose the 2016 gubernatorial election to Inslee.
Bryant’s high water mark in public opinion research came in October of 2016, when a KCTS/YouGov survey put his support at 45%, to Inslee’s 51%.
If the Republican Party were to field Bryant again, they would at least have a credible candidate with both credentials and name recognition to put up against Inslee. Instead, what they have right now is a field of right wing extremists who are bound to alienate voters, including Republic Police Chief Loren Culp, white supremacist State Senator Phil Fortunato, and of course, Eyman.
Washington State Republican Party Chair Caleb Heimlich is no doubt pleased with this development. Eyman is now back in the Republican fold where he belongs, and a Trump/Eyman ticket is a real possibility for the party this November.
The party of Dan Evans appears to now be finally, truly, and totally dead, with the notable and distinguished exception of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington, who are courageously dedicated to keeping that legacy alive.
Aside from the Mainstream Republicans, who are separately organized and governed, the Washington State Republican Party has become just another branch of the Trump Organization, with total obedience and loyalty to Trump expected.
Unfortunately for Heimlich, this ain’t Mississippi and most voters are not enamored with Donald Trump like he and his operatives are.
NPI’s own research indicates Trump’s base in Washington State is about thirty-six percent, which is a big problem for Republicans aspiring to statewide office.
We’ve repeatedly seen that figure across responses to our questions about Trump’s job approval, impeachment, and the 2020 presidential election. While Trump’s base is larger in other places — including deep red Republican states like Alabama and swing states like Wisconsin — it’s only a fraction of the electorate here. A statewide candidate in Washington cannot be elected by Donald Trump’s fan club.
Eyman’s fan club seems to be operating under the assumption that what worked for Trump in 2016 will work for him. They truly appear to believe that Inslee is vulnerable to a challenge from Eyman. But this is not a national election. The governorship of Washington — a predominantly Democratic state — is not decided by a vote of the Electoral College, it’s decided by a statewide popular vote.
And running for office is not at all like putting measures on the ballot for people to vote on, which is what Eyman has experience with. Eyman’s schemes do not carry his name, at least not on the ballot. (They do in the mass media, of course.)
What voters typically see when an Eyman initiative is presented to them is misleading language, often devoid of context, in the form of a trick question.
As a candidate, Eyman does not have the ability to manipulate what question voters see when the time comes to decide who should be the state’s next governor. The ballot will list his name and party affiliation and Inslee’s name and party affiliation, along with those of other candidates. There will not be a loaded question on the ballot to stack the deck in Eyman’s favor like there was in 2019.
None of this probably matters to Eyman, who is taking a break from pitching initiatives. Eyman can profit just by running, because a gubernatorial candidacy keeps him in the limelight and keeps the dollars flowing into his personal coffers.