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June 7, 2006

What does Eyman's failure really mean?

Posted by David Postman at 8:05 AM

After Gov. Chris Gregoire said at a press conference the other day that Washington voters were being misled by Tim Eyman to believe R-65 was about gay marriage, I wrote that politicians on the losing side of citizen measures always claim people didn't know what they were doing.

Now that Eyman failed to force a vote on the gay rights bill -- and by his own design, a proxy on gay marriage -- who on the right will be the first to declare voters didn't understand what they were doing when they chose not to sign the petitions? (Of course given religious leaders' open disdain for Eyman's lackluster effort there may not be much of a search for excuses.)

What does it mean if Gregoire was wrong, as Eyman and his allies in the churches said she was, and people knew exactly what they were doing? Commenter John put it this way: "given that the ref 65 effort fell well short of the required number of signatures to even get on the ballot, doesn't it follow that the vast majority of Washingtonians have no issue with same-sex marriage whatsoever?"

The question could be put to the churches that backed the measure, as well as the governor who is on record saying Washingtonians are not ready for gay marriage.

Eyman's failure looks like good news for Democrats on the ballot this year. That's how one state Democrat reads it.

The defeat of the anti-gay rights forces comes as questions pop up about the strategy of national Republicans and President Bush to use a gay marriage ban as a way to boost sagging poll numbers. The New York Times reports this morning that doubting Republicans say "replaying the marriage debate in particular could do as much damage as good as Republicans fight to retain control of Congress."

"I don't think the problem is primarily with social conservatives," said Pat Toomey, a former Republican House member who now heads the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee. "The problem I see is with economic conservatives who see out-of-control spending, huge deficits and that Republicans can't make the tax cuts permanent. The problem is on a different field."

The good news for Republicans today comes from San Diego where voters picked the GOP candidate in the special election to fill the seat vacated when Congressman Duke Cunningham had to go to jail. ABC's The Note says "National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Reynolds has the best summary of the Higher Meaning of a 1/435th-sized tea leaf."

"The results in San Diego show that nothing has happened to alter the notion (sic) that House elections are about a choice between local personalities focused on local issues."

Democrats need to nationalize congressional elections, as Demo pollster Celinda Lake told me last month. "It's very clear what the struggle is," she said. And it's clear the struggle continues.

UPDATE: The Faith & Freedom Network, one of the groups that worked with Eyman on the referendum, has a blog and here's the post on yesterday's news.

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