Tim Eyman, the anti-tax crusader who has become a thorn in the side of Washington State government, officially announced as an independent candidate for governor.
Eyman is widely known as “the initiative king,” for all of the anti-tax citizen initiatives he has championed, including I-976, passed recently by voters to limit car license tabs to $30. There are already legal challenges, giving Eyman a platform from which to launch a populist campaign.
There are at least four Republicans running for governor, and the immediate question is whether an Eyman campaign will split the conservative vote, leaving Gov. Jay Inslee in for a third term.
Over the weekend, Evergreen State gun owners were wondering how Eyman might come down on Second Amendment issues. This is an important question now that the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a billionaire-supported group that has pushed through three gun control measures since 2014, has announced its 2020 legislative agenda.
That agenda includes dismantling Washington’s model preemption statute, which puts gun regulation authority in the hands of the Legislature. Another agenda item is to require background checks for ammunition purchases, ban so-called “high capacity magazines,” require training to obtain a concealed pistol license, and require reporting of lost or stolen firearms.
Eyman has not taken an official position on gun rights, but last year, he famously criticized the way language of gun control Initiative 1639 was printed on the back side of petitions.
The type was unreadable, according to a Thurston County Superior Court judge who initially tossed the measure off the ballot. Another problem with the layout was that there were no underlines denoting new language and cross-outs showing what language would be removed from existing law. The State Supreme Court—often referred to as the “Seattle Supreme Court”—allowed the initiative back on the ballot a week later.
But when it comes to taxes, his reputation ranges from the status of hero to heel, depending upon the source. He is roundly disliked in Olympia for his anti-tax initiatives, and local governments despise him as well, especially in King County, the state’s most populous county which encompasses Seattle and is the center of the Northwest’s liberal universe. Only Portland, Oregon rivals Seattle when it comes to liberal politics.
For the past 21 years, Eyman has challenged Evergreen State taxes. He’s also gotten into legal trouble over alleged misuse of funds.
Outside of western Washington population centers, Eyman is something of a grassroots hero. Those who believe in mass transit consider him a villain.
Regardless, everyone seems to concur that Eyman is good for a headline, and in politics, that is sometimes all that matters.
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