It has been 40 years since a Republican presidential candidate won Washington state. Today, Democrats enjoy a “trifecta” there, controlling the governorship and both chambers of the Washington State Legislature.

But despite Democrats’ firm grip on state government, conservatives just scored their own “trifecta” victory in the deep-blue stronghold.  

The conservative grassroots organization Let’s Go Washington collected 2.6 million signatures across the state on six ballot initiatives, which amounts to over 420,000 signatures per measure.  

In early March, under pressure to act on the Republican-backed ballot initiatives, the Washington State Legislature enacted three of the six measures after holding hearings.  

The three measures, which become law within the next 90 days, will:

  • Remove restrictions on reasonable police pursuits.  
  • Give parents the right to examine their children’s classroom curriculum, books, and other materials, and grant parents the right to see their children’s school records. 
  • Bar the state, counties, cities, or other jurisdictions from implementing a general income tax. 

“By having a coordinated, strategic agenda of six initiatives … we were able to put [Democrats] on defense, and they needed to react to what we were trying to accomplish,” Dann Mead Smith, finance director and steering committee member for Let’s Go Washington, told The Daily Signal.  

“And now, half of what we wanted to accomplish has been passed into law,” said Mead Smith, adding, “and we’re hopefully poised for a complete victory to get all six passed by voters in November.”  

The other three initiatives, for which the Washington State Legislature didn’t hold hearings, will appear on the ballot in November, giving voters the opportunity to approve them as law. Those initiatives would: 

  • Repeal the state’s cap-and-trade carbon tax.  
  • Allow Washingtonians to opt out of the state government’s long-term health care insurance program.  
  • Repeal the state tax on capital gains income.  

The Seattle Times also summarized the success of the campaign for the state ballot measures as putting the Democrat-controlled House and Senate on “defense.”

“House and Senate Republicans relentlessly brought attention to these initiatives, including through repeated procedural motions to require their consideration by the Legislature,” House Minority Leader Drew Stokesbary told The Daily Signal.  

“Even though the initiatives represent a significant rollback of Democrats’ signature policy victories in recent years, it appears that legislative Democrats succumbed to Republican pressure and decided to pass the three initiatives that were polling the best, and roll the dice with voters on the other three,” Stokesbary said, adding: “I suspect that will turn out to be a bad bet for them as well.” 

Originally, the Washington State Legislature “refused to even hold hearings on any of the six [initiatives],” Mead Smith said, “even though in the state Constitution, it says the paramount duty of the Legislature is to pass a state budget and then to debate citizen initiatives to the Legislature.”

In response, Let’s Go Washington mounted a public pressure campaign, holding two rallies on the steps of the state Capitol. Local media called for hearings, and polling indicated bipartisan support for the measures.  

Mead Smith of Let’s Go Washington, also the co-founder and co-leader of its parent company, Project 42, said he was surprised by this fact: Of over 820,000 unique signers of petitions to put the initiatives on the ballot, 57% were either registered Democrats or independents

With such a large, independent voting bloc in Washington state, Mead Smith said, he believes the Democrat-controlled Legislature saw the support for the initiatives and “that made them nervous” not to act—resulting in a “political calculation” to hold hearings on and pass three of the measures.  

If the three remaining ballot initiatives attract bipartisan support from voters, he said, he hopes other states will take note and “not enact some of these bad policies.” 

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