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How WA GOP plans to deal with Eyman’s independent run for governor

Activist Tim Eyman. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

With anti-tax activist and I-976 sponsor Tim Eyman preparing to run for governor in Washington as an Independent, it’s had many wondering how exactly the state’s Republican Party plans to deal with a candidate who could potentially siphon away conservative votes.

“As we head towards the August primary, if (Eyman) actually does file in May, he’s going to be a force,” state GOP Chairman Caleb Heimlich told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show.

Washington state voters will be presented with the choice of any and all gubernatorial candidates who’ve filed for election in the August 2020 primary. After that, the field will be whittled down to the top two candidates in the primary for the general election in November.

Anti-tax activist Tim Eyman announces run for governor

If Eyman does manage to leap-frog any of the Republican candidates currently in contention, one question will loom: Will the state GOP endorse an independent against Jay Inslee?

“I think that is a fair assessment,” Heimlich affirmed, leaving the door open to the possibility. “I think that there’s a lot of time left between now and August to see what shakes down, but I’ll tell you this much: We are committed to replacing Governor Jay Inslee with somebody that’s actually going to listen to the voters.”

That being said, the priority for the party is putting a Republican in the governor’s chair, be it state Sen. Phil Fortunato, Republic Police Chief Loren Culp, or former Bothell mayor Joshua Freed.

“Certainly as the Republican Party, we are neutral in the primary, but we definitely prefer those candidates that choose to identify as Republicans,” said Heimlich. “… that’s our mission statement — we’ve got to do a better job of getting our people into office.”

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As for Eyman, he cites the idea that his various initiatives over the last two decades have garnered both Democratic and Republican support as one of the reasons behind declaring as an Independent.

Voters approved I-976 with 53 percent in favor across Washington state. Eyman says he felt compelled to put his hat in the ring for next year’s governor’s race because he believes Seattle is monopolizing politics and funding in the state, a platform that he shares with many Republicans.

As for whether that will make it tougher for the GOP to push their own candidates forward remains to be seen.

“Eight months is a long time, and certainly it’s gonna be up to our candidates to make the case that they are the best people for these issues, that they’re the best at getting things done,” Heimlich noted.

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