Cross-posted from OC Political…
First reported by Jon Fleischman at the FlashReport on Saturday night, Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker has become the first candidate to announce his entry into the race to replace Senator Josh Newman if Newman is recalled in the 29th Senate District.
The 29th Senate District recall election has centered on Senator Newman’s vote for the unpopular gas tax (58% of voters in a statewide UC Berkeley poll oppose the gas tax increase, and the percentage is likely higher in SD-29, as that district is more conservative than the state as a whole). Whitaker is well-versed in recall elections and anti-tax battles, having helped lead a City Council recall and multiple efforts to repeal/defeat taxes, as his campaign biography notes:
Bruce began an intense and prolonged foray into political activism in 1992 when he became incensed at the largest federal tax increase in U.S. history during the George H.W. Bush administration, and the largest state tax increase in California’s history under Governor Pete Wilson. He became active in his own city of Fullerton in 1993 when he led — as a proponent and treasurer — a successful effort to recall a majority of the City Council and repeal unnecessary utility taxes. That accomplishment has saved more than $170 million for residents and businesses of Fullerton to date.
On the heels of the Fullerton recalls, the Orange County bankruptcy erupted in December of 1994. At that time it was the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. As the chief spokesman of the Committees of Correspondence of Orange County, Bruce debated Sheriff Brad Gates, county CEO William Popejoy, Chapman University president James Doti and others and authored many guest editorials which helped to defeat Measure R, the bankruptcy sales tax. The defeat of that tax has resulted in more than $2.8 billion in taxpayer savings since 1995.
Bruce Whitaker founded the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers in 1996. He was president for eight years, following which FACT successfully brought suit against the Gray Davis administration for an unconstitutional $12.7 billion bond offering.
When Governor Davis was recalled from office, the Schwarzenegger administration and the Legislature attempted to pass a $2 billion pension obligation bond which also lacked voter approval. FACT and the Pacific Legal Foundation brought suit and won in both Sacramento Superior Court and the State Court of Appeals.
Whitaker was first elected to the Fullerton City Council in 2010 and re-elected in 2012 and 2016. In the citywide at-large vote, Whitaker came in first twice and second once in these three successful bids for council.
Whitaker also has name ID in other parts of SD-29, having been elected to the Republican Central Committee representing the old 72nd Assembly District in 1996 and re-elected in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010, before deciding not to run for re-election in 2012. He was also the top vote-getter four times. He came in second once, coming just 20 votes shy of first place in the race in which the top six places were elected.
Whitaker, a constitutional conservative, has been elected three times to the Fullerton City Council. Fullerton is the largest city completely within the boundaries of the 29th State Senate District.
Whitaker told me that, “Residents and taxpayers deserve respect from elected legislators. Senator Newman’s voting record proves that he does not reflect the values of this District.” He added, “Southern California needs strong leadership in Sacramento to protect and secure our rights, such as the right to vote on taxes. My record reflects that I’ve long been a passionate advocate for freedom, property rights, justice and fiscal responsibility.”
I was last with Bruce a few weeks at at a gas station on Harbor Boulevard where a massive effort took place to gather signatures for the recall of Newman. Whitaker appeared on the John and Ken Show, which broadcast their show live from that location.
In addition to his name ID from being elected to the City Council and the Central Committee, Whitaker may also have benefit from voters remembering the name of OC GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker, who has also been active in the recall.
Fullerton is the second-largest city in the district, behind only the portion of Anaheim in SD-29, but historically, Fullerton has produced the most voters in primary and special elections (which the SD-29 recall would be), as the SD-29 parts Anaheim has lower-propensity voters (Anaheim is split among three Senate districts, with voter-rich Anaheim Hills sitting in SD-37, represented by Republican Senator John Moorlach of Costa Mesa; the remainder of Anaheim is in SD-34, represented by Republican Senator Janet Nguyen of Garden Grove).