If anyone is wondering whether the Josh Newman recall is real, the answer is: it is.
At the Republican Party of Orange County’s monthly meeting on May 15, Chairman Fred Whitaker said the main problem was the number of people wanting to sign the petitions outstripped the number of volunteers available to sign them up. That is being remedied as the petition drive has the organization and the resources necessary to gather the signatures necessary to qualify the recall.
The Democrats are already responding with robocalls and paid petition blockers to make life difficult for signature gatherers. There are even reports of Democratic operatives calling supermarkets where petitioners are working, in order to intimidate them into kicking signature gathers off their property. The Democrats have even established a “snitch line” to call and report recall signature gatherers so the Democrats can send blockers to those locations.
Newman himself is blaming the recall on “hyper-partisan, out-of-town special interests.” It will interesting to see how many campaign checks from “hyper-partisan, out-of-town special interests” Senator Newman accepts in order to fight off the attempt to recall him.
However, while this may slow the recall drive, few insiders believe it will stop it. The question isn’t whether the recall will qualify, but when the recall election will take place. The gas tax and vehicle license fee increases take effect on November 1, and recall proponents hope to time their signature turn-in to trigger a recall election shortly afterward, with the gas tax hike fresh on the minds and pocketbooks of SD29 voters.
Governor Jerry Brown and the Democratic Legislature scheduled the tax hikes to take effect on November 1 because that’s when gas stations are transitioning from the “summer blend” gasoline to the less-expensive “winter blend.” Democrats hoped the timing would camouflage the price increase resulting from the tax hikes kicking in.
The recall campaign needs 63,592 valid signatures of 29th Senate District voters in order to trigger a recall election. Proponents began collecting signatures on May 11, the kickoff anchored by the popular KFI-AM drive-time duo of John and Ken broadcasting from an ARCO station in Fullerton. Carl Demaio, the San Diego talk radio host who launched the recall effort in April, was on John and Ken on May 19 and reported the number of signatures gathered to be in the “tens of thousands.”
Governor Brown added fuel to the recall fire by denouncing as “freeloaders” taxpayers who oppose paying even higher gas vehicle taxes. Recall proponents have until October 16, 2017 to turn in their signatures – although it’s expected proponents will turn them in far sooner than that.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s “No New Taxes” committee contributed $50,000 to the pro-recall “Californians Against the Car and Gas Tax Hikes, A Committee to Recall Josh Newman” on May 10. On May 19, Newman’s Senate campaign committee kicked $60,000 into the “Friends of Josh Newman Opposed to the Recall” committee.
It’s safe to say there will be millions spent on this recall election, but this will be an uphill battle for Senator Newman – an unknown with no record who won election by less than 1% in a heavily favorable, Democratic turn-out environment. A recall election would be a low-turnout affair in which the electorate will be more conservative and none-too-happy with Newman’s vote for a massively regressive tax hike – not too mention other aspects of Newman’s other votes such as his support for making California a Sanctuary State.