Tim Eyman campaigns for delegate with a special t-shirt
Tim Eyman stands outside the media room at the Washington State Republican Convention in Tacoma wearing his "Vote for Tim Eyman (Me)" t-shirt. (Photo: Peter Callaghan/The News Tribune)

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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2 replies on “Tim Eyman finally dispenses with the pretense of running for governor as an independent”

  1. I think that if Wash­ing­ton’s gov­er­nor was elect­ed between Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, he would have a chance, but dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year, I think the high turnout will work against him.

  2. Tim Eyman is like one of those doc­tors out on the Inter­net ped­dling vit­a­min sup­ple­ments… a polit­i­cal quack. His pre­scrip­tions are bad for society. 

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