Since March, more than 100,000 people across this country have gotten sick or died from SARS-CoV‑2, the novel coronavirus, which the United States has utterly failed to mitigate, let alone contain. While Washington State has been more effective at combating the virus thanks to its Democratic leadership, the state is still seeing an increase in cases, which is gravely concerning.
Tim Eyman doesn’t care.
The longtime scammer and sleazy political operative — who has taken a break from pitching destructive initiatives to embark upon a narcissistic gubernatorial campaign — has for months been disregarding the guidance of public health officials while attempting to drum up interest in his candidacy (and money).
All spring, Eyman invited people to join him for a house parties, rallies, and press conferences where they are at risk of catching COVID-19. As if that weren’t bad enough, now he wants to take things to a whole new irresponsible level.
From an email distributed to his fan club yesterday:
Eyman proposes all governor candidates and all their supporters have election night celebration in the same location. Think about it: this ensures immediate unity so we can beat Inslee!!
I firmly believe I will win the August 4th [Top Two election] and be the candidate chosen by the voters to challenge Jay Inslee in the fall campaign. I’m confident of that.
And I’m also confident that Anton Sakharov, Joshua Freed, Loren Culp, Phil Fortunato, and Raul Garcia think I’m wrong and that voters will choose one of them instead.
So let’s take advantage of everyone’s self-confidence in the outcome of the primary by committing right now to having all of us and all our supporters having one election night celebration at the same location.
Tim Eyman may not be billing this as a “COVID party”, but that’s essentially what this would be (if it took place): A potentially disastrous super spreading event that could result in a lot of people getting sick and possibly dying.
Many on the right wing believe COVID-19 is a hoax.
That includes high profile Trump surrogates and Trump staffers.
For instance, after participating in Donald Trump’s June 20th Tulsa rally a few weeks ago, Herman Cain contracted COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized.
Former game show host Chuck Woolery, who tweeted Sunday that “Everyone is lying” about COVID-19, including the media, Democrats and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a day later that his son was diagnosed with the disease.
His Twitter account no longer existed on Wednesday.
“The most outrageous lies are the ones about COVID19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust,” Woolery wrote Sunday night without citing evidence.
“I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it,” he added.
His tweet was retweeted by President Donald Trump.
On Monday afternoon, Woolery said his son tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“To further clarify and add perspective, COVID-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus,” Woolery tweeted, adding that he feels for “those suffering and especially for those who have lost loved ones.”
Emphasis is mine.
We’re sorry, Chuck. Sorry that you didn’t take this public health crisis seriously, and sorry that your son has contracted the disease. We hope he recovers.
As I have remarked here before, many of Tim Eyman’s followers are elderly Washingtonians, and they are thus at the greatest risk of dying if they contract COVID-19. For Eyman to willfully propose putting their lives (and others!) at risk just so that he can have the biggest possible crowd cheering for him on what he thinks will be a triumphant night for his twisted political career is sickening.
But not surprising.
After all, Eyman looks up to Donald Trump — he has expressly said so — and big in person gatherings of right wing activists are a signature facet of Trump’s campaign, along with propaganda distributed through Fox and Facebook.
Though Donald Trump recently donned a mask — which I imagine might well have been jarring for Eyman and other rabid Trump supporters who had fully bought into Trump’s absurd position against masks — Trump is still utterly failing to protect Americans from the threat of COVID-19.
What is particularly maddening is that Trump has the power to protect millions of people merely through the megaphone of his Twitter account and other platforms that carry his message, like the Murdochs’ FNC. He could save a significant number of lives without even using the powers of the presidency.
If Trump fully embraced mask wearing, then a lot of his followers likely would, too. If Trump told his followers to stay away from bars and support his candidacy from home as opposed to congregating in person, a lot of his followers would do as they’re told. Not all, of course. But many would. Having chosen to follow Donald Trump as their authoritarian strict father, many would obey his directives.
Republicans have repeatedly proven they’re very good at turning on a dime.
They stopped caring about deficits and presidential overreach as soon as Trump was in office, for instance, and they had no problem scrapping the filibuster for Supreme Court justices when they wanted to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed.
One Republican candidate for governor — Raul Garcia — has championed mask wearing and is trying to stand out in what former Eyman ally Phil Fortunato (now an Eyman rival) has called “a clown race”. Garcia enjoys the support of Republicans like Dan Evans, Sam Reed, and Mark Schoesler.
But he’s probably not going anywhere.
“Washington State Republicans have had success only when they have made clear they were a little different than the national party,” former Republican state party chair Chris Vance argued today in Crosscut. “Today, a candidate like Garcia needs to go even further and make it clear he is very different than the Trump GOP.”
Unfortunately for the few reasonable Republicans left, that wouldn’t work as a recipe for electing Republicans to high office here in the Pacific Northwest.
To be a Republican nowadays means to be part of the Trump Party — because that is what it has turned into. The people who run the Washington State Republican Party and represent it in high profile roles couldn’t separate the party from Donald Trump even if they wanted to. Their base would turn on them.
The Mainstream Republicans of Washington State — a group which we at NPI hold in high regard — are basically all that is left of the party that used to be the political home of distinguished leaders like Evans and Nelson Rockefeller.
Tim Eyman made it clear this week that he’s glad that party is dead.
“For decades, the establishment keeps telling us to nominate Republicans who are nice, civil, and respectful. That approach has failed — repeatedly,” Eyman wrote in an email entitled Moshpit politics is the only way to win.
“Moshpit politics” has definitely served Donald Trump well at the national level.
But Washington State’s politics are very different than the country’s as a whole. About three out of five Washingtonians have a negative opinion of Donald Trump, and public opinion research going back to 2012 has found that most Washingtonians aware of who Tim Eyman is have a negative opinion of him.
Washington is a state where science matters, where medical breakthroughs are secured, and where cooperation and inclusion are valued. Donald Trump performed poorly in Washington in 2016, and is on track to do worse this year.
Tim Eyman has certainly had some success running cons against voters in years past by qualifying deceptively worded initiatives. But this time, for the very first time, he’s on the ballot himself. And if his experience turns out to be anything like Bill Sizemore’s in Oregon back in the nineties, he’s going to lose. Badly.
As for Eyman’s rivals, they would all do well to decline Eyman’s invitation to join him in violating Governor Inslee’s just-issued directive prohibiting social gatherings of more than ten people. If they care about their health and their families’ health and the health of their most fervent supporters, they’ll stay home on Top Two Election Night, and watch returns get posted in safety and comfort.