Capitol Alert

Teachers take on Republicans in gas tax recall fight

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The state’s largest union representing teachers is wading into the political fight to recall state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, over his vote earlier this year to raise California gas taxes and vehicle fees to pay for road repairs.

The 325,000-member California Teachers Association contributed $250,000 to the campaign committee formed to oppose the recall of Newman, according to campaign finance records filed Monday with the Secretary of State’s office.

Those behind the recall, including Carl DeMaio, a radio talk show host and former San Diego councilman, have reported $44,000 in contributions to the pro-recall campaign committee. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is also supporting the effort.

It is circulating the recall petition online at “” calling on voters to help break Democrats’ supermajority in the Legislature.

Republicans have long held control of the Southern California district represented by Newman. They see his vote in favor of the Democratic-backed $52-billion road repair package as their chance to take back the seat next year. Though a lone Republican helped the Democrat-dominated Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown pass the tax increase, organizers targeting Newman are casting him as “the deciding vote” according to the recall petition.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, is seeking to repeal the widely unpopular gas tax increase. Allen reports he and other recall proponents are awaiting approval of the ballot initiative language by the state Attorney General’s office. The California Republican Party has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the 2018 ballot measure, according to state filings.

Newman said last month that Democrats “are not giving this seat back.”

The California Teachers Association did not respond to a request for comment. Newman voted in line with the union’s positions in some cases, and voted against them in others, according to its legislative scorecard. For example, Newman supported a state bill from Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, that would require middle and high schools to begin no later than 8:30 a.m. – which the union opposed. But he voted in favor of the bid from state Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to create a publicly funded, government-run health care system for the entire state that teachers endorse.

WORTH REPEATING: “The bureaucracy is at the core of the swamp.” -- House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, on where ‘draining the swamp’ needs to begin.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Assemblyman Phil Ting explains the move to blow up the Board of Equalization.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Brown is hosting the prime minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama, in Sacramento today, where he is expected to join the “Under2 Coalition” – a commitment by cities, states and countries to reduce heat-trapping emissions. It’s named for the 2-degree global temperature benchmark at which the consequences of rising Earth temperatures are considered potentially “catastrophic,” as the governor’s office puts it.

The signing ceremony is set for noon. Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee are expected, as well as state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

ROAD TO 2020? U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, making early moves that could indicate she’s eying a 2020 presidential run, has a new campaign-style sticker. It reads: “Courage not Courtesy.”

After the Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee told Harris to be more “courteous” during her questioning of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein involving the Trump-Russia investigation, the former California attorney general’s political operation sent an email blast to supporters saying, “no really, that happened.”

“We believe we need courage, not courtesy, especially with the integrity of our democracy and our government at stake,” she said in the email.

DOGS IN HOT CARS: With the hottest summer days ahead, the California Highway Patrol at 10:30 today will demonstrate on the East Lawn of the Capitol how to free an animal trapped in a hot car.

A bill from Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga, signed by Brown last year, made it legal for people to smash the windows of vehicles that are too hot or too cold, as long as there’s no other way to rescue the animal. People are required to first contact law enforcement.

In this promotional video produced by California Assembly Republicans on May 16, 2016, lawmakers advocate for Assembly Bill 797, which would allow people to break dogs out of hot cars. From left, they are Assemblymembers Kristin Olsen of Riverbank

CALIFORNIA’S TOP COP: Attorney General Xavier Becerra is expected to discuss how he views his role as California’s chief law enforcement officer when it comes to issues like public safety and immigration at an afternoon forum hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Becerra, appointed by Brown after Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate last year, has been in office just six months. He has promised to fight the Trump administration on immigration, health care and the environment. The conversation with Becerra begins at 12:15 p.m. It’s available for viewing online.

GOVERNOR’S RACE: The only declared Republican running for governor next year, John Cox, is expected to lay out his political platform at a Sacramento Republican Assembly meeting tonight in Carmichael.

Cox, who has called for the creation of a “Neighborhood Legislature,” is considered a long-shot in the 2018 race. His popularity fell 9 percentage points in the latest survey from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. The poll ranked Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as the two leading candidates.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Church on Cypress in Carmichael.

RALLY FOR MEDI-CAL: Disability rights advocates will lobby for the preservation of Medi-Cal and other proposed laws to help disabled people at a rally set for 9 a.m. at Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento.

Sens. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Portantino are scheduled to speak beginning at 10:30 a.m. along with Assemblymen Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, and Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield.

Angela Hart: 916-326-5528, @ahartreports