Capitol Alert

Gas tax vote triggers nearly 85,000 signatures to recall Orange County senator

hamezcua@sacbee.com

The California Republican Party announced Tuesday that it submitted nearly 85,000 voter signatures on a petition to recall Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton.

The campaign needed to come up with 63,593 total signatures by mid-October to force a recall vote in Senate District 29. The signatures must be certified by election officials before the measure can qualify for the ballot.

“The speed with which voters signed the petitions is a testament to the anger they feel towards these tax increases and a fear of what liberal Josh Newman might decide to tax next,” said Jim Brulte, chairman of the California Republican Party, in a statement.

The Newman campaign questioned the authenticity of the recall effort and said a vote will cost the district $3 million that would be better spent on schools and public safety.

“The recall petition is a costly power grab by out-of-district special interests that won’t save taxpayers a dime and won’t solve any problem voters care about,” said Mike Roth, a spokesman for the campaign against the recall.

The announcement comes amid accusations that signature-gatherers have been duping voters in Senate District 29. Earlier this month Newman called on state officials to investigate allegations that signature gatherers are misleading voters by saying the recall petition will repeal the $52 billion gas tax recently approved by the Legislature.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday to change the rules governing recall elections. Democrats in the Senate previously said they introduced the measure in response to the alleged signature-gathering violations.

The new law allows voters to withdraw their signature from a recall petition 30 days after it has been submitted to officials. It effectively adds months to the existing timeline to certify a recall election for the ballot and ensures that nearly all recall elections are held during the June primary.

The changes are expected to benefit Newman’s chances of defeating the recall. Voter turnout is generally higher at regularly scheduled elections, which helps Democrats in blue California.

Brulte called the new law “a clear abuse of power.” Despite submitting 85,000 signatures, Republicans plan to continue to circulate recall petitions and turn in signatures in light of the “legislative tomfoolery.”

“The Democrats’ attempt to quell the movement by retroactively changing the rules is pure political gamesmanship and completely undermines our democratic process,” Brulte said.

Carl DeMaio, the Republican talk radio host who instigated the recall against Newman, thanked supporters in an email Tuesday and said he intends to “file a challenge to the illegal changes to the recall process recently made by Sacramento politicians.”

DeMaio has said he launched the recall over Newman’s support for the gas tax and to eliminate Democrats’ super majority in the Senate

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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