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Thursday, January 27, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Inside Politics

Conservatives honor Eyman

We've missed Tim Eyman since he last called to offer his input on legislative action. So we called him and found him at home, fresh from a 12-day trip to Hawaii and our nation's capital, where he picked up the Ronald Reagan Award at the 27th annual Conservative Political Action Conference. The American Conservative Union bestows honors on conservatives "exemplifying the spirit of Ronald Reagan."

Eyman's role model, Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, was the keynote speaker. Gilmore's 1998 proposal to eliminate car taxes in Virginia was the inspiration for Initiative 695, Eyman said. He got a big kick out of receiving the award, he said.

The biggest kick, though, was the $25,000 check that accompanied the prize. Eyman will donate a chunk of the money to the "already burgeoning $1.2 billion tax surplus" by buying a new car. He estimates the state will rake in about $3,000 in his taxes and fees.

Not me, says Tim. Eyman has been approached by Republican Party members to help with campaigns and to even run for office himself. But he's not biting. "That has just has zero appeal," he said. "We've got our hands full with two new initiatives."

Rep. Renee Radcliff, R-Mukilteo, says she knows why Eyman doesn't want to run for office. "He doesn't want to do the research," she said. "He prefers to do things in sound bites."

Eyman's response? "Whatever."

Meanwhile, Eyman's Traffic Improvement Initiative is facing a legal challenge before it even gets on the ballot. 1000 Friends of Washington and the Transportation Choices Coalition are challenging the state-approved ballot title.

It now reads: "Shall state and local transportation funds be spent 90 percent for roads, transportation agency performance audits required, car-pool lane restrictions eliminated and road materials be tax exempt?"

Aaron Ostrom, executive director of 1000 Friends, said the ballot title doesn't go far enough to clarify that the initiative would take money from transit for road construction. He filed an appeal in Thurston County Superior Court yesterday.

Going nuclear. Unless you subscribe to cable you won't see them, but beginning last night Peace Action began running a series of television ads asking viewers to call Republican Sen. Slade Gorton and urge him to support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

In October, Gorton joined Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and other Republicans in a largely partisan vote to defeat the treaty.

The ads will run about 50 times through Feb. 3 and be aired in six states represented by senators who opposed the treaty.

Inside Politics is written by The Seattle Times politics staff and compiled by Times Olympia Bureau reporter David Postman. His phone-message number is 206-878-3337. His e-mail address is dpostman@seatimes.co.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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