Just months after the highly publicized failure of his Referendum 65 (which could have vetoed a new gay-rights law), Tim Eyman got more bad news Thursday.
His Initiative 917, which would have undone new vehicle-weight fees and other transportation-related taxes, is dead in the water.
"It's over," said Mark Funk, spokesman for a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups who were preparing for what they hoped would be a $3 million campaign urging voters to leave the taxes alone. The money -- $2.8 billion, according to Funk -- is targeted for safety and anti-congestion projects, many of them in crowded Puget Sound.
Eyman, according to "unofficial" figures released Thursday by the Secretary of State's office, turned in 266,006 signatures. If 41,127 or more of those were rejected (as duplicates, people who aren't registered to vote, etc.), Eyman would fall short of the 224,880 needed to put his measure on the November ballot.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, after weeks of checking, workers had rejected 42,772 signatures.
In other words, even if all the remaining 20,000 signatures or so are OK -- which is highly unlikely -- it's impossible to have enough signatures get on the ballot.
Eyman, who earlier this year had claimed he turned in more than 300,000 signatures and that someone must have "pilfered" them from the Secretary of State's office, made no mention of that allegation in a short statement Thursday afternoon.
He said this attempt came "really close and the lesson we've learned is to work even harder from now on." He and his Spokane colleagues, Mike and Jack Fagan, have been inspired to rededicate themselves to working for voters, Eyman said.
"We're very excited about the future and we are committed to serving as taxpayer advocates," he said.
“He raised about 400k from contributors to get measures on the ballot and failed to do it. If I was those contributors I’d be taking a long hard look at why these measures failed.”