I couldn’t go to bed without briefly commenting on the latest news from our state’s best known professional blowhard.
Supporters of an effort to overturn the state’s new gay civil-rights law sent out an e-mail Wednesday saying they’ve collected just a fraction of the signatures needed to get the measure to voters.
Tim Eyman sent the e-mail to supporters and the media, saying that only 8,718 signatures have been gathered. He needs 112,440 valid voter signatures by June 7 to get Referendum 65 on the November ballot.
Hmm. What to think?
Well, on the one hand, knowing what I know about Eyman’s organization (or lack thereof), it really wouldn’t surprise me to learn that R-65’s signature gathering efforts have been so anemic. But on the other hand… Timmy’s a pathological liar.
Further complicating the analysis is the fact that Eyman’s email touting his dismal performance is entirely out of character. Indeed, his usual M.O. is to flood supporters with upbeat proclamations that he’s “never seen this much excitement before,” but urging everyone to work (and give) harder because it always takes a “Herculean effort” to get any initiative on the ballot. Such guarded pollyannaisms are Tim’s norm, regardless of a measure’s actual public support.
I suppose it is possible this latest email could be a clever feint, but I fail to see the tactical advantage of portraying his campaign as weaker than it really is, and besides… Timmy isn’t really all that clever. So in the absence of even the tiniest scrap of evidence that the R-65 signature drive is gaining any traction whatsoever (you know, like actual people gathering actual signatures)… I’m going to have to reluctantly take Eyman at his word.
So… absent a sudden, six-figure infusion of cash, R-65 doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of making it onto the ballot.
Let’s look at the numbers. To qualify for the ballot Eyman must collect 112,440 signatures by June 7, but not all these will be valid. The Secretary of State recommends a cushion of 25 percent, but let’s be generous and say Tim can get by with only 10 percent, for a minimum target of 124,000 signatures.
As of yesterday, Eyman claimed to have collected only 8,718 signatures, while hateful, nutcase preacher Joe Fuiten claimed to have another 2,900. That left them about 112,000 shy of their target with only 42 days before the deadline. To put this in perspective, they’re now less than one-tenth towards their goal, more than halfway through the 90-day signature gathering period.
To qualify for the ballot, the R-65 campaign would have to collect about 2,700 signatures a day, 7 days a week, from now until June 7… not necessarily an impossible task if you can afford to hire an army of paid signature gatherers.
But Tim can’t.
For the past couple years, Timmy has essentially been a kept man, financing his campaigns (and his lifestyle) primarily through the generous support of one Michael Dunmire of Woodenville. His latest $30 Car Tab initiative is flush with Dunmire cash, but R-65… not so much. Eyman claims to have raised only $13,000 thus far, but most of this actually consists of loans from him and the Fagans. In fact, as of March 31, R-65 had raised only $1041.01 in cash contributions.
So what we’re looking at here is an all volunteer signature drive, a difficult endeavor under the best of circumstances, and something Eyman has never organized. I suppose the strategy, so to speak, was to rely on conservative church groups to gather signatures, and I guess the hope was that the effort would somehow organize itself spontaneously.
But with the exception of those rare ballot measures that simply catch fire, successful signature drives require either an immense amount of planning and organization, or an immense amount of money… and Eyman has neither. The truth is, without Dunmire’s money, Eyman brings little to the table other than a knack for garnering undeserved media attention, and a hateful measure like R-65 requires a helluva lot more resources than that.