“In Texas, where Oil is King”
De Golyer Library, Southern Methodist University
on wikicommons

In case you haven’t opened your mailbox this week, next Tuesday is election day. Ballot drop boxes close at 8 pm sharp Tuesday. Mailing your ballot is free, but it must be post-marked by Tuesday, so mail it by the day before, take it to a post office Tuesday before they close, find the nearest drop box, or go to one of the accessible voting sites (including at the King County Administration Building), such as the King County Administration Building, and be prepared to stand in queue for awhile. If you lost your ballot, there is a replacement process, but going to an accessible voting site is also an obvious solution.

Check out the link on the top line for STB’s endorsements.  You can also try ReadySetVote.org, a service of the Muni League, which features our endorsements among others.

The latest figures from the Public Disclosure Commission show that the No on 1631 campaign has broken the record for most money raised for a political campaign in the State of Washington, having raised $31.3 million, nearly all of it from oil companies headquartered in other states.

Until this year, the most money ever spent for or against a ballot measure or candidate in Washington State was the No side on Initiative 522 in 2013 (which would have required the labelling of genetically-modified foods), which raised $26.7 million. This year’s Yes on I-1634 campaign (“Yes! to Affordable Groceries”) is third all-time, having raised over $20.2 million.

The most expensive candidate campaign was Patty Murray’s re-election effort in 2010, hauling in $17.1 million. That campaign now ranks fifth in all-time fundraising behind the three initiative campaigns mentioned above and the $20.1 million spent by 2011’s Yes on 1183 (allowing private liquor sales in the state) campaign.

The next most-expensive candidate effort was Rob McKenna’s $13.8 million unsuccessful bid for governor in 2012, but that comes behind several more initiative campaigns in the rankings, including the Yes on 1631 campaign, which has raised $15.4 million, putting it fifth among initiative campaigns, and sixth among all races.

With the opposition basically reduced to oil companies and those opposed to taxing carbon pollution (which even the Times spent lots of paragraphs to eventually admit is its real qualm), the Yes side digging as financially deep as it can muster, and the 41%-59% drubbing I-732 got, it seems unlikely anyone is going to try a carbon tax initiative again if this one fails. The Legislature has had many more opportunities, and gotten nowhere.

22 Replies to “7 Days Left to Overcome Most Expensive Campaign in State History”

  1. Is transit exempt from the increase for gas tax? I hope so, otherwise it will offset the good benefits with making transit more expensive.

    1. There is no “increase for gas tax”. It is a tax on the Carbon content of all fuels, and “No, it doesn’t go for roads — or transit for that matter.”

    2. Public transit is exempt from the tax (as with existing gas taxes), because there is an exception for:
      “Motor vehicle and special fuel currently exempt from taxation under RCW 82.38.080.” (Sec. 9 (1)(d))

      Additionally, the tax can be used to fund public transit. The initiative specifically notes this under potential investments:
      “Reduce vehicle miles traveled or increase public, transportation, including investing in public transit, transportation demand management, nonmotorized transportation…” (Sec. 4 (1)(d)(ii))

    3. But keep in mind, as Nick Abraham of Yes on 1631 quoted:

      “The charge is not directly put on taxpayers, it’s on the roughly 100 largest polluters in the state, like the oil industry, and utilities that have not yet switched over to clean energy,” Abraham said. “We feel like the folks who have been causing the most damage, the most harm should be the ones paying the fee.”

      Note that fifth word. That is a very key word.

      It’s good to see both sides of the debate, so you can take it for what it’s worth, but here’s an breakdown in the Seattle Times.

      “Yoram Bauman, an economist who helped to draft the 2016 Washington carbon-tax initiative, estimates that I-1631 would initially cost the average Washington household $200 annually.

      “I think that’s reasonable,” Bauman said.”

  2. Thanks for this article, Brent, but its subject makes me want to puke. I don’t give God’s most heartfelt damn the amount of money anybody’s raised. Tell the public what we’re going to do when we win and be ready to do it. Day after this election or the one after.
    At worst we won’t lose any worse.

    Campaign cost? Invite the enemy to help us out next time. And put it on Twitter that in Washington State we can be State Senators at age 18, and so should rest of our Tweeters coast to coast..

    Governor Mike Lowry, he once told me in person that if he had every high school student working on his campaign, he could take any election in the State. Even thought nobody under fifty remembers him even in Washington, message should stick nationwide and farther.

    Mark Dublin.

  3. The carbon initiative still has a fair chance, and at least most people will know it’s a tax on fossil fuels, whatever they think about that. But the the anti-soda-tax initiative looks like it will be bouyed to victory due to misleading advertising. I’ve already received three postcards saying “Stop taxes on groceries”. It’s like if an ST3 postcard said, “Stop car-related taxes” without even mentioning the MVET or the transit projects, which is what they’re really against. The only indication of what it’s about is the tiny line of the highest donors (almost all soda companies). It doesn’t matter much to me because I haven’t bought soda regularly for decades, but I’m really burned up that most of Eastern Washington will vote Yes without realizing it has anything to do with a soda tax that they don’t have and probably never will have anyway, and that there was never any plan to slap a 10% sales tax on all food.

    1. You really have to hand it to whoever came up with the marketing campaign for Yes on I-1634.

      Will be voting No myself, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see low-info voters get duped into thinking an actual tax on groceries is imminent.

    2. Anecdotally it will be one of those times that the heavily republican eastern Washington will impose it right-wing values on Seattle.

      1. @Ian. :) I like how you said that, “it will be one of those times that the heavily republican eastern Washington will impose it right-wing values on Seattle.” Because every other time is goes the other way, Seattle imposing it’s values on the rest of the state. :)

        I’m voting yes. Like another person commented, the government shouldn’t be choosing winners and losers. Soda, or whatever else. And what I am also voting yes for is because of the corruption of the Seattle soda tax. There’s ZERO reason why pop should be taxed and sugar soaked Starbucks drinks shouldn’t. Not if, but when, Seattle decides to tax other things, there’s going to be corrupt decisions being made, and I’m voting against those.

      2. @toby

        Not really, because Seattle only has 500,000 people and the rest of the state has more then 7 million, so they can easily outvote Seattle every time, so there’s no . In fact, the Puget Sound area subsidizes the rest of the state, not the other way around.

        Actually, economists have documented quite an extensive history of governments successfully picking winners and losers around the world to grow their economies more then what leaving companies alone could do:


        And on corruption: . The city has limited abilities to impose taxes, so it can’t easily work a general sugar tax in.

      3. King County has 29% of the state population. And that number has been rising. Obviously this doesn’t include the other urban counties in Western Washington.

        Hopefully it will be possible for the legislature to reflect the will of the majority of the people eventually.

    3. Yes-on-1631 is making claims about clean water, reducing childhood asthma, reducing pollution 80% without specifying that they’re only talking carbon emission sources.

      None of these will win any prizes for truth in advertising.

      1. This entire election cycle has been pretty sketchy overall, but the Yes-on-1631 campaign hasn’t been nearly as bad as the Yes-on-1634 or Yes-on-1639 campaigns. And it’s not nearly as sketchy as its opposing No-on-1631 campaign.

      2. Why not? If it helps reduce pollution (since most carbon sources also create other pollution) and has categories restricting when funding can go (such as environmental programs), seems like its not that far from the truth.

    4. Well it will stop a tax on groceries.

      When they came for the soda I said nothing….

      … and when they came for whatever garbage you like to eat there was no one left to speak for you. The government should not be picking winners and losers in the cookie aisle. I quit drinking soda too but this Western Washington Seattleite is voting yes. It’s a regressive, paternalistic tax. (And yes I know this one won’t overturn the existing soda tax, one step at a time.)

      1. Oh but I totally agree on the misleading language and advertising. People will absolutely be confused and vote opposite their intention. I think the number of initiatives this election also makes each more confusing. “Wait is this the one we vote yes on to agree or vote no on to agree?”

      2. > picking winners and losers

        Conversely, maybe corporations shouldn’t be telling jurisdictions what they can and cannot tax? because that’s really what the initiative is trying to do.

  4. You advise people to take their ballots to the post office before it closes on Tuesday. To make sure it’s postmarked by Nov. 6, you’ll need to get it to the PO BEFORE the last mail pickup.

  5. 1. As if the right wing anywhere had any values, which one will they be able to impose on us? Remember how many of their kids run away to Moses Lake, as compared to other direction.

    2. Meantime, how’ bout if we invade? Anti-slavery people from New England beat pro-slavery Missourians in Kansas in first round of the Civil War, even though Missouri was right next door.

    3. No matter how abjectly we surrender, how much more money will Moses Lake give us either way?

    4. I’m voting against the soda pop tax because I want the enemy to be fact and sick, with a million dollar dental bill!


  6. Certainly don’t mean any campaign doesn’t have to raise money. Just hate how nothing else about the campaign gets reported.

    Somebody might also want to think about how bad the average voter hates every single ad. So best to put the word out, social media and word of mouth, what you’ll do for them if you get elected, and also specifically how little money you’re going to spend on ads.

    But mainly….perfect example. “If you win the election…What are You going to DO about how many people’s residence is in a car, assuming they’ve got the money? Do I hear word “Number 1!”?

    Like let people priced out of their homes go back as care-takers? Or refinance their car so they can drive to the job they just got re-paving any street in Seattle…your choice which one?

    Or have the Guard bring materials and show people how to build emergency home- call it earthquake drill, which it could become any minute? Because from what I can see, the Democrats should have an open field, and not just to build the house on.

    And BTW: “Way we see it, since us taxpayers already bailed out the banks after 2008, your student loans are also all paid off. And on Twitter and your schools’
    every wall pass along that at age 18, you can give back your mortarboard and go pass some legislation in the State Senate.

    With life expectancy getting longer, how many elections will you have voters in? Glad my party is already saying these things. Where can I read them?


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