This fall’s gay marriage measure, Referendum 74, is already attracting millions of dollars, but so far the campaigns have been relatively quiet, saving up for a TV ad-war that will surely be fierce starting after Labor Day.
The pro-gay marriage side has raised the most money by far - $6 million so far, which includes $2.5 million from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The anti-gay marriage side has raised only $500,000.
Despite the big money advantage, proponents of same sex marriage say they aren’t taking anything for granted given this history of these ballot measures in other states.
“We have lost 32 out of 32 times, so we still consider ourselves the underdog,” said Zach Silk, Referendum 74 campaign manager. “We can’t get complacent. We know they have deep pockets and come in late.”
Silk says he’s on alert to see if and when his opponents make a big move.
“[I’m] very curious about what the other side is going to do,” Silk said. “They were able to gather so many signatures early in the summer, and we’re really curious what they are going to do to talk about their message.”
The opponents of gay marriage say they don’t know if millions will come their way, especially since there are three other states with this issue on the ballot and national money is being spread to all those contests. But they are still confident of their chances even without a similar warchest.
“Absolutely, we’ll be outspent,” said Chris Plante, campaign manager for Preserve Marriage Washington. “We’ve been outspent every other time.It doesn’t come down to dollars, it comes down to votes.”
Given that gay marriage has lost at the ballot box in every state that voters have weighed in, what makes supporters think that Washington will be any different and break that pattern?
“We know based on all those losses that we needed to do things differently,” Silk said. “One of the things we needed to do differently was to talk to voters in the summer through volunteer to voter contact and we have been doing that since June.”
Plante says his side will use the playbook they have used in other states. They will also remind voters that Washington already has domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and privileges of those who are married.
“We’ve already proven that the grassroots here in Washington state want this on the ballot by getting almost a quarter of a million signatures,” he said. “The people of Washington state believe that marriage is one man and one woman.”