SEATTLE — The campaign to legalize and tax marijuana for adults in Washington state is rolling as next month’s vote approaches, with more than $1 million in new contributions reported since last week and a surprising endorsement Wednesday from Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Michael Baumgartner.
The money, most of it from retired Progressive Insurance founder Peter Lewis, means Initiative 502’s backers have raised nearly $4.1 million over the course of the campaign, with $1.2 million left to spend. Alison Holcomb, campaign manager for New Approach Washington, says her group is planning a broader television campaign than the three-week advertising blitz it ran in Western Washington in August.
Meanwhile, Baumgartner’s decision to endorse the initiative in an interview with The Associated Press gave the campaign one of its highest-profile Republican supporters yet. Baumgartner, a state senator from Spokane, is running a longshot bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, who came out against I-502 Wednesday afternoon.
Baumgartner said drug law reform isn’t typically supported by his party, but he believes I-502 is a good step toward changing what he described as a wasteful policy of marijuana prohibition.
“It’s taking a different approach to a very expensive drug war, and potentially a better approach,” Baumgartner said. “They’ve checked all the boxes as far as what you would want to see happen in terms of provisions to keep it away from children and limiting access in the public space. I’ve just been impressed with the initiative and the people running it.”