Tim Eyman, who co-sponsored Initiative 1033, said he has never seen a better political climate for a smaller-government measure. He should know: He and his partners, Jack and Mike Fagan, have put 12 measures on the Washington ballot since 1998. Eight have passed.
“I’ve never seen an initiative that fits the times as much as this one,” Mr. Eyman said. “People are astronomically concerned that, my God, government keeps getting bigger and bigger and nobody seems to be in control of this thing.”
Even so, the initiative will have to overcome stiff opposition from the same alignment of forces at play in Maine — Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, and the Democratic-controlled Legislature, as well as the major labor unions. They argue that the initiative will sink the state’s already vulnerable economy.
“Starved for revenue, our government will have no choice but to continue to lay off public servants, destroying any chance of an economic recovery and creating a ripple effect that will lead to additional job losses in the private sector,” according to Permanent Defense, a Washington-based advocacy group leading the opposition to the measure.
The key issue in the Washington campaign could be Mr. Eyman himself. Opponents regularly paint him as a right-wing zealot and gadfly who enjoys toying with government through the initiative process. Campaign literature against Initiative 1033 asks voters to “reject Tim Eyman’s jobs-killing initiative.”
Mr. Eyman says that tactic hasn’t worked in the past and isn’t likely to work this time.
“In all 11 campaigns, they’ve said I’m this bad guy, I’m irresponsible, reckless. You’d think at a certain point they’d admit this is not persuasive to voters,” he said.