Already borderline extinct in King County, state Republicans are fighting just to stay alive in this age of Trump.
So about the last thing they needed was to see the name of another highly polarizing conservative huckster, with a history of deception, thrown into the mix.
Tim Eyman, the longtime GOP friend and anti-tax crusader, filed papers Monday to run as an independent candidate for governor. He’s hoping to make it through a primary next August to take on the two-term Democratic incumbent, Gov. Jay Inslee.
But if Eyman goes through with it, his campaign ironically is set to run his usual pals the Republicans into the ground even more than they already are.
Why do I say that?
First off, it isn’t just me saying that. Republicans themselves seem to sense that as much as they like watching Eyman torch the establishment with his initiatives, they are the ones who will get burned by this latest campaign.
“This is a serious thing,” state senator and announced governor candidate, Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, said to The Associated Press about the governor’s race. “His entering into the race, especially as an independent, makes the thing a circus.”
Echoed state Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, to Crosscut: “I think he has really reached the end of his credibility, in terms of you can only fail so many times.”
Ouch. And those are Eyman’s political friends talking.
“Can you imagine what it would be like for Republican candidates to appear on ballots here with Donald Trump at the top and then Tim Eyman for governor?” wondered Chris Vance, the former state GOP chairman who left the party because of Trump. “Total clown show. They’d lose another ten (state) House seats and another five Senate seats.”
If that happened, Democrats could hold two-thirds supermajority control over both state legislative chambers for the first time in nearly 60 years.
Now you may be objecting: Eyman’s running as an independent, not as a Republican. This is true, and it may help insulate the party a bit. But it’s also a stretch that voters will see him as very independent or nonpartisan.
He has a long track record as a Republican, after all. He was a delegate to the national GOP convention in 2004. Over the years he has donated money to four party organizations — the King County Republicans, the Spokane Republicans, the Snohomish Republicans and the state Republican committee. His most recent political donation, in September, was to J.T. Wilcox, the state House Republican leader.
He also has a 25-year record of only running conservative initiatives and referendums — against taxes, against mass transit, against same-sex marriage. Add to that he is currently being held in contempt of court in a campaign violation case and has racked up about a quarter million in fines.
Oh and add to all that the video of him stealing a chair this year from Office Depot. The “should this man be your governor?” ad campaign writes itself.
It seems clear to the worried Republicans quoted above: Having Eyman on the ballot means total disruption. And not to Democrats.
“I want my money back to use in my own campaign,” charged Fortunato, who had donated to Eyman’s legal defense fund in the past.
Yeah, good luck clawing cash back from your old pal now, Republicans. About as likely as contractors getting paid by Trump.
Not that they’d take advice from me, but local Republicans ought to instead just pay off Eyman. Politics is his racket, so meet him on his terms. Just put him on the payroll to go run another anti-tax initiative or something.
Seriously, the president’s latest approval numbers are 29 points underwater in Washington State, the fourth-worst in the nation (behind only Vermont at -34, Massachusetts at -33 and California at -32). One can only hazard what Eyman’s personal approval ratings are in, say, King County, where if you lose by more than 20 points you have no chance to win statewide.
One person has got to be loving all this. Jay Inslee has offered up no good argument yet for why he should get a third term as governor. But “saving the state from these two grifters” sure gives him an easy one.