Fresh from statewide voters approving his Initiative 976, anti-tax activist Tim Eyman on Monday formally launched his campaign for governor in 2020 against Gov. Jay Inslee.
Rolling out his campaign slogan “One of us as Governor,” Eyman said he was running as an independent because of legal challenges to his initiatives.
“Millions of voters have passed these common-sense initiatives only to have their decisions disrespected and outright ignored. ‘Why do I even vote?’ is a question that’s being asked far too often,” he said.
“Too many voters have no voice, no representation, no belief anymore that their vote counts. Right in front of our eyes is the destruction of democracy.”
On his campaign website, Eyman vowed that if elected, he would veto any tax increase. He used “Seattle” instead of Washington in referring to the Legislature and the Supreme Court.
“That means Seattle’s Legislature must override my veto which requires a two-thirds vote. I sponsored and voters passed four initiatives requiring that protection. But the Seattle Supreme Court took it away from us,” Eyman said.
He first said he would run Nov. 21 during the public comment part of the Sound Transit board of directors meeting. The microphone was cut off as Eyman spoke because the board chairman had notified people that they couldn’t engage in campaign activity.
Those who meet the definition of a political candidate must file a candidate registration within two weeks. That’s filed electronically with the Public Disclosure Commission.
Eyman filed the paperwork, but he needed to correct it because the date of next year’s election was wrong. He made that change to reflect he’s registering to run in the November 2020 general election, said PDC spokeswoman Kim Bradford.
Monday’s event in the lobby of the Secretary of State’s office where Eyman built his name recognition as an initiative promoter over the past 20 years offered an opportunity for him to maximize media coverage. He spoke in front of five television cameras and several reporters using their smart phones to videotape.
Eyman’s bid to unseat Inslee, who is seeking a third four-year term as governor, comes as he is embroiled in a campaign finance lawsuit about his work as an initiative promoter.
The lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson in 2017 against Eyman, the signature-gathering firm Citizen Solutions LLC and one of its owners, William Agazarm, accusing the firm and Agazarm of unlawfully concealing a $308,185 payment to Eyman.
In a Sept. 30 order, Judge James Dixon of Thurston County Superior Court ordered Citizen Solutions and Agazarm to pay more than $1 million for their role in deceiving donors by funneling campaign donations to Eyman for his personal use.
Last month, Dixon sanctioned Eyman and ruled that more than $766,000 given to him between February 2012 and July 2018 are contributions in support of ballot initiatives, not “gifts” from supporters as Eyman had claimed.
Eyman has denied any wrongdoing, saying Ferguson is bent on destroying him.
A few hours after Eyman registered his candidacy with the PDC, a nonprofit group called Washingtonians For Ethical Government filed a complaint with the commission against Eyman, alleging he is violating state law by falsely advertising himself as the incumbent governor.
The group’s president, Andrew Villeneuve, cited campaign materials including emails and a website in which Eyman refers to his campaign as “Governor Eyman for Washington” and “Governor Tim Eyman for Washington.”
Reached for comment, Eyman said in an email: “Voters are aware that I am not the Governor but that I aspire to be and will be if voters are as repulsed by the prospect of four more years of Jay Inslee as I am.”
He predicted the “frivolous complaint” would be dismissed, citing a similar one filed against Dan Roach for his yard signs when he ran for Pierce County Executive. The PDC’s executive director said in 2016 there is not a violation of the prohibition against false representations of incumbency unless it’s made with “actual malice.”