With a tough-on-crime mission and sympathetic supporters - the families of fallen police officers - it could have the ingredients to score with voters.
Still, backers of a ballot measure to limit the constitutional right to bail are taking no chances, planning for a traditional campaign of fundraising and endorsements, speeches and signs.
The new push kicked off Tuesday in Olympia for what supporters call the Lakewood Law Enforcement Memorial Act. Voters will decide the issue in November, nearly a year after Maurice Clemmons shot and killed four Lakewood officers while free on bail.
“I’m confident that when the public is fully educated about what this does and what it doesn’t do, that this is going to pass by the largest margin of any constitutional amendment ever proposed before the citizens of Washington state,” said Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, co-chairman of the campaign.
Judges have to set bail for all suspects except those facing the death penalty, so Clemmons was able to walk away from jail after he was booked on a charge of child rape.
Lawmakers moved this year to let judges deny bail to more people. They ripped up draft after draft in trying to figure out exactly which offenders should be included, but finally came to an agreement the House, Senate and Gov. Chris Gregoire could agree on.
Under the constitutional amendment approved unanimously in the Senate and with just four dissenting votes in the House, judges could detain anyone facing a life sentence whom they deem to have shown a clear “propensity for violence” that puts others in danger.
Lawmakers said they properly balanced civil liberties with public safety. Few of them sided with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which said overhauling the fundamental constitutional right to bail would keep people from being considered innocent until proven guilty.
Now supporters will try to convince voters.
The campaign has appointed a director, King County Councilman Reagan Dunn. It has created a Facebook page and a Web site, rememberlakewood.com, that shows where to send campaign contributions.
Family members of slain Lakewood officers, wearing shirts with the officers’ names and pictures, stood with a bipartisan group of politicians Tuesday. They included Democrat Gregoire, Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, Seattle police officer and Republican Rep. Mike Hope and Hurst, a Democrat from Enumclaw and a former police detective.
Hurst and Hope, the campaign co-chairmen, said they would push hard to win voter support.
“I would like to see this measure pass, I don’t know, 95 percent?” Hurst suggested.
“More,” Gregoire put in.
Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826