Location: Staircase at the Bellevue Hyatt
Mood: Giddy and pugnacious
Drink of Choice: Whatever leftovers and half-empty glasses could be found at Susan Hutchison's party.
Amongst Olympia politicians and Seattle liberals, Tim Eyman might be the most hated man in Washington state. Blaming his taxpayer friendly initiatives aimed at controlling the growth of out-of-control government spending is the standard crutch used by failed city, county and state governments unable to control their financing without increasing the size of their budgets 12 percent per annum. Even some Republicans have a hard time supporting the guy, fearful that he gives the party a bad name with his publicity stunts and electioneering antics.
But for all of that, Eyman sure knows how to have a good time at a party.Initiative 1033 will likely go down to defeat, losing 55 to 45 percent with early statewide returns. More ominous is that the measure is being defeated in Eastern Washington counties like Adams, Yakima, Kittitas, Garfield and Walla Walla. These are usually safe conservative areas which have been amenable to Eyman in the past.
Eyman stood in front of a score of laughing supporters chanting "four more years" while he read a prepared statement to the press.
"The 1033 campaign is a perfect metaphor for how outgunned the average taxpayer is in the process. Opponents to 1033 were led by the government itself and all the special interest groups, billionaires, and millionaires who control and feed off the government. They spent $3.5 million. Our side raised and spent less than $700,000."
Covering Tim Eyman is like taking a step back into the past where political figures were dynamic characters who said what they mean and weren't afraid to let off a few politically incorrect expletives to make a point. There were no costumes this year. Nor were we even able to get him to growl like Chewbacca (Eyman does a dead-on impersonation). But he wasn't afraid to bust the chops of a few laggardly television reporters who showed up late to his press conference.
Foreshadowing the bad news that would follow half an hour later, Eyman used a bit of humor to explain the difficulties of convincing voters, year after year, even in conservative districts to support his measures.
"Voters aren't Pavlovian dogs. Me see tax cut - grunt - me vote for tax cut. The media has a view of taxpayers like they're Neanderthals. We know voters weigh all the pros and the cons."
Even though his Initiative was going down to defeat, Eyman was optimistic about the conservative movement gaining momentum nationwide. He has been a fixture at every Tea Party rally held here in Washington and he pointed to Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia as being bellweathers for future success.
"There is a groundswell of people who want to take back their country," Eyman said. "The initiative process gives them another voice."
As per normal, Eyman declared victory - regardless of the election results - and like the ending credits to a James Bond movie he promised to return again in 2010.
Party Crasher: The most interesting dynamic during the evening was that between Tim Eyman and County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison. As a way of showing how non-partisan she was, Hutchison publicly announced that she was not supporting I-1033. What better way of attracting independent and Democratic voters than by throwing the I-Man to the wolves.
For his part, Eyman shrugged off the rebuke and chalked the snub up to political expediency. That didn't stop his supporters from snarling openly at the former KIRO anchor behind her back. The two exchanged brief pleasantries late in the evening, Hutchison's being more stiff and plastic, before going their not so separate ways.
But after the phony smiles and handshakes, judging by the daggers that Hutchison shot at Eyman while he clowned around, talking expansively to the press and partygoers, one gets the feeling that she wished the state's Initiative King would have held court at a separate hotel. Preferably in Uzbekistan.