by Goldy, 12/27/2009, 1:32 PM

In summarizing The Year’s Most Underreported Stories over at Publicola, Erica writes:

4) The political demise of Tim Eyman and those that brung him.

Obviously, Tim Eyman isn’t going away–the former watch salesman’s entire livelihood depends on bringing in new contributions, and new contributions require new campaigns. But this year’s stunning defeat of his latest tax-slashing measure, Initiative 1033 (his first tax measure, importantly, to be defeated) spells doom for future Eyman initiatives. Voters don’t have to be told that taxes pay for things they need anymore–they can see it all around them, in the state’s crumbling infrastructure, the closure of county parks, and the ongoing budget crisis at the city, state, and county levels.

Moreover–to paraphrase Josh–Eyman’s defeat this year is good news for Democrats in general, suggesting that last summer’s anti-government, anti-Obama backlash was overblown.

Yeah, well—to paraphrase Mark Twain—the reports of Tim Eyman’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

It’s not that I-1033 didn’t go down to a crushing defeat, even in much of traditionally pro-Eyman/anti-tax Eastern Washington. But it’s not like Eyman initiatives haven’t been defeated before… and besides, it kinda misses the point of what Eyman does.

Eyman doesn’t run initiative campaigns; he gets initiatives on the ballot. In recent years, those of his initiatives that have generated a sufficiently well-financed No campaign have been defeated, while those that have gone unopposed have not.

From a business perspective, it really doesn’t matter all that much to Eyman whether he wins or loses. Sure, he needs an occasional win or near-win to maintain the shred of relevance necessary to garner media attention, but Eyman has long been a kept man of a single sugar daddy, and as long as Woodinville investment banker Michael Dunmire continues to finance his signature drives, Eyman will continue to qualify initiatives for the ballot, and continue to make a nice living in the process.

And from a political perspective, as long as Eyman continues to qualify initiatives for the ballot, he’ll continue to put Democrats on the defensive.

Just take a look at I-1033. Sure, it lost by a whopping 18-point margin, and in 24 of 39 counties… but only after the No campaign spent over $3.5 million to defeat it. $3.5 million. That’s money, largely from progressive donors, that could have been spent on a more proactive agenda, such as enacting tax restructuring or education finance reform or something productive like that. That’s $3.5 million that won’t be available, for example, to help elect progressive Democrats in 2010.

If you believe Eyman’s primary objective is to pass stuff, well then, yeah, I guess I-1033′s defeat must look pretty bad for him. But if you understand Eyman for what he really is—our state’s biggest political monkey, wielding our state’s biggest political monkey wrench (the initiative process)—well then, 2009 wasn’t such a bad year for him after all.

And a pretty damn profitable one at that.

49 Responses to “Understanding Eyman”

1. Mr. Baker spews:

The error is common. Is it common enough to turn people off of him to stop signing petitions? No.

2. Truth_Teller spews:

Perhaps the progressive response to Eyman needs to be moderated? Why spend so much to beat an initiative so badly? Seems like overkill to me, especially when that money is needed elsewhere.

Eyman is all but dead. A few hundred grand ought to be enough to beat back his next cuckoo initiative. Save the millions for more important things – that will defang Tim for good.

3. Mr. Baker spews:

I1033 was a 2-fer, once I1033 was clearly on the way down it looked to me like the campaign against it turned more to a campaign against him. He had to keep going out there and take the beating (that’s the job).
Still, losing by 18 points leaves enough people to send him out there again.

But, pretty soon, he will have to have an actual winner, or he will be seen as the problem, rather than the ideas he pushes.

Ah, the live of a lobbyist.

4. 2cents spews:

It took very little money to defeat I-985 and once Eyman was tied to I-1033, that seemed to send I-1033 down in flames. From Eyman’s perpective the current economic crisis seems to be affecting Dunmire’s ability to contribute.

Eyman is owes $250,000 to his bank and Dunmire is taking his time coming to his rescue. I read Kemper Freeman was one shopping mall development away from financial ruin, so even Eyman’s sugar daddies have to pinch their pennies.

Chosing to focus on the 2/3rd’s approval for tax increases seems to show he is desperate for a win.

I have only found these initiative campaigns on the PDC so far.

5. Politically Incorrect spews:

So, Tim Eyman’s strategy is to wear-down the big-tax, big-government crowd by forcing it to respond with financial resources to battle his initiatives. Sound like a successful strategy, like the strategy the ACLU uses against small towns to force compliance to political correctness: sue the bejeebers out of the small, hick towns to force them to expend money to defend having the Ten Commandments chiseled into the masonry of city hall. Or like Reagan used to defeat the Soviets: spend trillions on Star Wars to force the Sovs to counter the US’s technological edge (whether is would have worked or not is beside the point: Star Wars was instrumental in bankrupting the Soviet Union).

Let’s hope the Milk Chocolate Messiah will wrap-up things in Islamo-land before those foreign adventures bankrupt us!!

6. Roger Rabbit spews:

I’ve gotta wonder where the money Dunmire pours into Eyeman’s coffers comes from. Investment bankers, after all, in the business of leveraging other people’s money into huge profits for themselves. In recent times, they’ve typically operated with 30-to-1 leverage. You know — investors get the risks and losses, bankers get the profits. It’s easy to pour millions of dollars into initiative campaigns when it’s someone else’s money you’re spending. It’s very difficult for me to believe Dunmire his throwing his own money at Eyman. Not that kind of money. There’s too many nice things he could buy with it, such as English yachts or jet planes or exotic vacations or second-hand French castles or European paintings. Why would anyone spend money that can buy those things on an autographed souvenir photograph of pus-ugly Timmie Lieman? I just wonder whether we’ll read about Dunmire in the newspaper’s police blotter pages someday. Just wonderin’, that’s all.

7. proud leftist spews:

I would like to say I’d miss Timmy if he were to disappear from the political sphere; he is, after all, such an endearing little mischievous waif. I’d be lying if I said that, however. I’d miss Timmy like I miss, upon its passing, an epic case of indigestion.

8. SJ spews:

Hosit WE don’t have an Eyman?

It seems like the answer to Eynman would be an equla and opposite force.

Here are some intiiatives that oughta pass:

Tax the Wealthy:

Surtax on anyone owning more than 2 million dollars in personal property. Tax used to fund parties after football games.

Equality for Deities

Law requiring equal time for all deities in school curricula. Any diety with more than 5% od the population in the district is entitles to have her or his holidays celebrated by public sacrifices.

Marriage for Celeibates

Celibates who choose to marry deities are entitled to all rights.

9. Perfect Voter spews:

Thanks, Goldy, for picking up on something I’ve been saying for quite a while now (in my various anonymous comment guises…) and that is that Eyman really doesn’t care any more about affecting public policy, he’s in his game simply for the money. It’s his living now, as long as Mr. Dunmire keeps writing those six-figure checks, and naive people keep signing when handed something by a paid solicitor.

10. czechsaaz spews:


Or municipalities, recognizing the the establishment clause of the constitution and familiarizing themselves with settled case law before SCOTUS, can stop wasting taxpayer money attempting to establish a state sponsored religion. Such action, as even the most born-again city attorney in the bible belt is aware, will be cause for legal action which such municipalities will ALWAYS lose.

11. Roger Rabbit spews:

U.W. Bosses Reek of Corporate $$$

Apparently the $900,000 taxpayers pay U.W. president Mark Emmert isn’t enough; he gets another $220K for squatting on the board of Expeditors International.

EI has a contract with the U.W., worth $250,000 a year, to handle international shipping of goods used by the U.W.

And Emmert gets another $140,000 a year to squat on Weyerhauser’s board of directors. That’s a lot of money for “attend[ing] a meeting once every couple months,” which makes me think the Big W’s 140K buys influence, not time or skills.

And U.W. Provost Phyllis Wise has come under fire for accepting a $200,000-a-year gig with Nike to supplement her $650K university pay. Nike has business dealings with the U.W.: It licenses trademarks to sell merchandise with the U.W. logo, among other things. Nike also has a slimy public image from, among other things, allegedly exploiting workers in third world countries under what amounts to slave-labor conditions to make its products on the cheap, and it’s reasonable to assume the company benefits from having people like Wise on its board to project an aura of respectability that, in real life, it may, allegedly, in fact not have.


I mean, isn’t the U.W. a state agency? Isn’t the U.W. funded, at least to some miniscule extent, by federal and state TAX DOLLARS? Is the governor asleep? Isn’t she supposed to be the boss of bosses, the person who supervises the bosses of state agencies and universities, the gal in charge of doing something about agency heads and top managements, who get paid big bucks to act in the public’s name for the public interest, who are on the take from private corporations in what clearly are conflicts of interest and/or socially undesireable activities? Isn’t Gov. Gregoire supposed to be the ultimate protector of the values we hold dear as citizens? Such as NOT USING OUR STATE’S PREMIERE UNIVERSITY TO FACILITATE THE ENSLAVING POOR GUATEMALAN WORKERS to enrich soulless tycoons like Phil Knight?

Hello? Gov. Christine? Is anyone alive out there?

12. Mr. Baker spews:

Is this an open thread?

13. Roger Rabbit spews:

@12 What open thread? There is no open thread. The last open thread is buried way the hell down the list, about 5 or 6 threads down. We need an open thread! Every third thread should be an open thread.

I invite all posters who feel the way I do to join my new campaign: The Roger Rabbit Open Thread Initiative Campaign! Our goal is to lobby for more open threads on HA, because HA doesn’t have enough open threads.

A sufficient supply of open threads would ensure that rogue posters don’t wander off topic on topic-specific threads. Of course, the whole notion of deleting “off topic” comments is ridiculous because all posts on this blog are, in fact, on-topic.

The topic of this blog is: REPUBLICANS SUCK

And I’ll bet dollars for doughnuts that Emmert and Wise vote Republican. All they care about is how much money is in their own pockets. They don’t give a shit about Guatemala slaves! They fit the Republican profile to a T.

14. Roger Rabbit spews:

The paucity of open threads discriminates against off-topic topics! HA is unfair! I demand equality for topics! Topics are entitled to free speech, too!

15. Max Rockatansky spews:

STFU Goebbels Rabbit….you pollute every thread here.

16. headless lucy spews:

eyman’s methods of collecting signatures is similar to ACORN’S.

17. Max Rockatansky spews:

@16…..ermmmmm….not really.

18. headless lucy spews:

re 17: Yes, really. How are they different??

19. headless lucy spews:

re 17: They both hire people to collect signatures and they get a certain percentage of fake information that way.

Same thing. Eyman operates like ACORN. Deal with it.

20. headless lucy spews:

Max Rockatansky does’nt know his ass from his elbow, doesn’t know shit from shinola, can’t think on his feet.

21. All Facts Support My Positions spews:

I think we should up ACORN’s funding 100 fold!

Imagine if poor people weren’t slaves, and actually participated in our government.

Would be the end of the Republicon Slime / Death / War Machine, and clean up the Dems too!

Who’s with me?

Pssst. Eyman has no clothes.

I think the I-1033 may be his last train wreck.

22. Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

Hey Factless, Start sending all your money to ACORN.

No one is stopping you!

23. proud leftist spews:

Hey Puddy,
We haven’t had a chance to chat recently. How was your Christmas? Did you get everything you asked for, like world peace, for instance? I mean, you do want world peace, don’t you?

24. Max Rockatansky spews:

@21….poor people have just as much opportunity to vote as anybody else….

people who dont vote are just plain lazy – and I am damn tired of hearing excuses otherwise. If people cant get off their ass once a year – or every few years to vote – then fuck ‘em, they dont deserve a voice.

25. Max Rockatansky spews:

@18-20….feeling lonely?

26. SJ spews:

Roger’s post is very topical.

Look at it this way, imagine if:

Gov Gregoire’s Director of Tourism agreed to be on the Board of the Princess Cruise Lines or the Head of the State Police agreed to a contract with Colt?

The worst part of her action is the arrogance. In effect she is claiming to be above the rukles of behavior that everyone else has to follow.

27. proud leftist spews:

SJ @ 26 and Roger
Emmert’s sitting on these corporate boards truly doesn’t pass the smell test. Crap, he’s in academia. Making piles of money is not supposed to be his goal. And, the governor should be prepared to address this issue. Nonetheless, Timmy’s corruption still trumps Emmert’s. Timmy has done more to harm this state than any other living Washingtonian. We still love him, though.

28. headless lucy spews:

re 25: feeling a little gay?

29. Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

23. proud leftist spews: Hey Puddy,
We haven’t had a chance to chat recently. How was your Christmas?

Proud Leftist, thank you for asking. Christmas was a blast. We had some out of town guests and strangers in. We gave them unexpected gifts. Faces were priceless. That’s what warms up the Christian heart. Unconditional giving. Butt your good bud ylb arschloch said showing the spirit of Christmas was stupid right wing bullshit. Puddy didn’t ask for world peace because we know it won’t happen.

“1 Thess.5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”

Puddy does pray for our leaders. Puddy prays for HA Libtardos too.

BTW Proud Leftist, did you enjoy your Christmas?

31. Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:


You have the little people visiting again?

32. Roger Rabbit spews:

@17 You’re right, ACORN is more honest.

33. Roger Rabbit spews:

@24 “poor people have just as much opportunity to vote as anybody else….”

Until a Florida cop pulls them over on the way to their polling place. Or a Republicon operative in Ohio puts up phony posters telling them to go to the wrong polling place or try to vote on the wrong day. Or until Republicon “cagers” swindle black soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan out of their right to vote:

34. Roger Rabbit spews:

@29 I spent Christmas taking a Fort Lewis soldier around Seattle and then out to a special dinner. I support the troops with more than empty words. After all, I’m a veteran, so I know what it feels like to spend the holidays on an army post with strangers far away from home.

35. Max Rockatansky spews:

@33….LMFAO….sure Goebbels, keep believing the propaganda….

36. Roger Rabbit spews:

“Concerns are being voiced by some oil experts that Saudi Arabia and other producers may, in the near future, be unable to meet rising world demand. … If consumption begins to exceed production by even a small amount, the price of a barrel of oil could soar to triple-digit levels. This, in turn, could bring on a global recession ….”

New York Times, Aug. 21, 2005

Roger Rabbit Commentary: Man, do those liberal biased media guys dream up some whoppers!

37. Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

Yep Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny strikes again!

38. Michael spews:


We didn’t have anyone over this year but, we’ve had quite a few folks staying at Fort Lewis at our family Thanksgivings and Christmas’s. Generally, it’s someone that my parents knows niece, nephew or grandkid.

My dad knows what it’s like, he’s a Korean War vet.

39. SJ spews:

@27 Emmert is NOT a academic. He does have a PhD but his entire career has been in admin. Wise is an academic but by appointing non-academic president, how can the Regents of the citizens expect Dr Wise to behave differently than her boss?

The smell test for the two seems to me to be different. Emmert has no obvious role in Weyerhauser/UW dealings or in the EI/UW contract. Wise has direct admin responsibility for numerous issues that impinge in Nike, including the trademark issue Roger referred to.

For faculty these ethical issues are regulated by a fairly tough Code. Emmert and Wise however, claim to not have to report to their faculty supervisors. Under WA state law this means only the Regents, the governor, or then Washington State Executive Ethics Board can take action. The latter, however, is outside of the whistle blower rules so it would be hard for any UW employee to raise these issues.

Wise claims that she is within the law because she will recuse herself from any relevant issues. Given the controversy over Nike, it is hard to see how she can do this.

40. Roger Rabbit spews:

@39 The mere appearance of a conflict of interest should be sufficient to persuade her to recuse herself from either Nike’s board or the U.W. Provost position. These two jobs are fundamentally incompatible and no one should hold them at the same time (or, arguably, sequentially).

41. Roger Rabbit spews:

@37 Goebbels was a technically proficient propagandist, but I’m a better propagandist than him, because he was a liar whereas I tell the truth. You, puddlehead, are merely a gasbag.

42. Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

You tell the truth Gobbels Dumb Bunny?

The immediately come to mind…

Your many this is how it works plagiarisms
Stafford County, VA
Cuyahoga County, OH
The Meaning of IF

43. platypusrex256 spews:

methinks bunny and puddy are secretly best friends =)

lets get together and eat crumpets!

44. Don spews:

And don’t forget that Eyman is a much bigger fraudster than ACORN was ever accused of being. Every initiative cycle, thousands of signatures are thrown out because of multiple signatures and people not eligible to vote. Any calls from the righties for Eyman’s prosecution (or even a bill of attainder)?

45. headless lucy spews:

I think it’s a fun thing to accurately compare Eyman to ACORN, considering the expense they went to to paint ACORN as corrupt.

We can simply point out that Eyman is just as corrupt as ACORN — even more!

Heh! Political jiu jitsu.

46. rhp6033 spews:

Forcing others to spend money to counter his initiatives might be a result/consequence of his campaigns, but I don’t think it’s a motivating factor.

I think the motivating factor of Dunmire and Eyman’s other supporters is to keep the politicians on the defensive. Every initative is an opportunity for Eyeman to rail against taxes and the “political establishment” (i.e., Democrats). He gets to the point where everybody is afraid to even discuss real tax reform because it opens another battle with Eyman and his supporters. With no real movement toward tax reform, the status quo becomes perceived as one extreme, and Eyman as the other, with a “reasonable compromise” somewhere in between – i.e., a gradual movement toward Eyman’s position.

Such is the inevitable fate if you surrender the initiative (no pun intended) to your opposnant.

As for Eyman himself, I think he’s motivated simply by the good income he makes promoting these initiatives, and especially the adoring crowds (getting smaller every day) everytime he holds a rally. Getting pats on the back and being told what a “great man you are” by business big-wigs and Republcan party wingnuts are probably a big motivator for his ego.

As for his chances of success, I think the anti-Eyman forces made a great leap forward when they were able to tie Eyman’s name to the initiative. Regular voters, not just political junkies, have begun to smell trouble whenever Eyman proposes an initiative. Eyman is a great marketer in that he disguises the real impact of his bills behind some friendly slogans, but once you look into the details, you realize that it’s you (the average voter) who is going to suffer if the initiative is passed.

47. proud leftist spews:

Puddy @ 29,
Why, thank you for asking. It was a quite nice Christmas. Christmas Eve, of course, meant church and old family and ethnic traditions. Christmas Day, which has less tradition for us, we had a relative over recently stationed here in the military. All went well. For a day or two, I’ll take the gloves off and tell you I do wish you well.

48. Rujax! spews:

Puddy does pray for our leaders. Puddy prays for HA Libtardos too.

Fucking superstitious dumbass.

49. sarah68 spews:

Eyman and Emmert are alike in at least one way: They are hired guns. Emmert doesn’t seem to care about education as an issue, and Eyman doesn’t care about any of the issues “his” initiatives oppose or back. What people think about Emmert doesn’t matter to him. What people think about Eyman doesn’t matter to him.

The difference is that Eyman’s paid by one private-enterprise guy, and Emmert’s overseen by a Board of Regents who are unpaid and appointed by the Governor. Presumably, the Governor should have some influence over Emmert, but it’s not like thousands of people are going to want to spend time working to make policy without getting paid. So “prominent” people get appointed who may not give a fig about education, and not caring, save themselves some unpaid work.

I’d like to believe differently.