Capitol Alert

California senator facing recall for tax vote argues election would be too costly

Freshman Sen. Josh Newman, the subject of a recall effort following his vote for legislation raising fees and taxes by billions of dollars to pay for road repairs, says he should be allowed to remain in office in part to avoid a costly off-cycle election.

Newman, a Fullerton Democrat whose upset win last fall gave Senate Democrats a two-thirds supermajority needed to raise taxes without Republican support, argues in his official response filed with the state this week that a recall would “waste millions of your tax dollars” by requiring the three Southern California counties covered by the 29th Senate District to hold unneeded special elections.

Such a recall would “disrespect the will of voters by removing a hardworking, conscientious Senator we elected less than six months ago,” Newman wrote, adding that it would “inject even more politics and divisiveness into public life at a time when we desperately need leaders who will unite us while solving real problems.”


Newman’s roughly 200-word statement makes only passing mention to Senate Bill 1, which will raise $52 billion over a decade to pay for road maintenance and repairs, goods movement, public transit and other projects. Brown signed the measure Friday.

“As every driver in Southern California knows, the need to reduce traffic and fix our highways is urgent and real,” he wrote. “That’s why Josh authored a constitutional amendment to ensure that every new penny allocated for transportation will be used only for transportation.”

While it’s true Newman authored a Senate constitutional amendment on the issue, the Democratic-dominated Legislature ultimately approved Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley.

Newman said the proponents of the recall, which is being led by Republicans to wipe away the Democrats’ supermajority, are cynically misrepresenting his support for “sorely-needed local road repairs as a pretext for removing him from office.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago