First time ever: initiative opponents decide to join us in spending nothing

by | Oct 8, 2012

In 2007 on Initiative 960, opponents spent $1.3 million ($576,692.55 came from Washington DC unions SEIU, AFSCME, Washington Education Union, $101,692.55), our side spent nothing, voters approved the initiative.
        In 2010 on Initiative 1053, opponents spent $1.6 million (SEIU $550K, AFSCME $600K), our side spent nothing, voters approved the initiative.
        In 2012 on Initiative 1185, opponents have raised $50,000 so far (SEIU $25,000, WEA $25,000) and they spent it on a California polling firm.  And what did the polling results show?  Well, based on the behavior of their usual funders closing their wallets/purses this year, apparently the voters don’t support making it easier for Olympia to raise taxes.
        The opposition’s spokesman was asked yesterday:  “is there really a campaign against this measure?” and he replied:  “This is such a busy election year that there isn’t money or space for a big educational campaign about what damage the initiative will do.  This is actually not good for our side of this campaign.”
        In 15 years of sponsoring initiatives, we’ve never had initiative opponents join us in spending nothing.  So for the first time, it is a level playing field.  Both sides are relying on the voters making up their own minds.  “Getting out the message” for this year’s I-1185 involves the pro and con in the voters pamphlet, news stories, and editorials.  Opponents are whining about it, but they’re the ones who decided to spend nothing.  If they wanted to, they could spend millions of dollars like they have previously and try to convince voters that everyone’s lives would be better if Olympia could more easily raise taxes.    
        Could it be that initiative opponents have finally accepted that the voters — repeatedly, consciously, soberly, and intelligently — want tax increases in Olympia to be a last resort, not a first resort?  That the voters have watched legislative sessions with the two-thirds and without, and correctly observed that Olympia functions better with it?  That reform and prioritization happens when the two-thirds is in effect, while reform and prioritization are no where to be seen when it isn’t?
         We will be thrilled if 50% plus one of voters approve I-1185 – a win is a win.  But what’ll be most interesting is seeing the results of an initiative campaign where both sides spent nothing and voters made up their own minds.
         As Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) said so well yesterday:  “The issue tends to speak for itself.  People get it, and one more ad or piece of mail is not going to change minds.”