Capitol Alert

Will Jerry Brown move Senate recall election to June?

In this photo taken Monday, July 17, 2017, is state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
In this photo taken Monday, July 17, 2017, is state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) AP

With their Democratic supermajority potentially in peril, California state legislators passed a law earlier this year that lengthened the timeline for the state to officially certify a recall election.

Now their efforts may give Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, a better shot of surviving a GOP coup.

Since Secretary of State Alex Padilla did not certify the voter signatures collected to recall Newman 180 days before the June 5, 2018 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown can opt to add the recall to the primary ballot instead of establishing a special election. The 180-day deadline expired last week.

Voter turnout is typically higher for regularly scheduled elections than special elections, which may give Newman better odds at the ballot box.

The new timeline established by Senate Bill 117 – the Legislature’s second recall redux measure after the original got held up in court – gives the Department of Finance until today to perform and submit a cost analysis to Brown, Padilla and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

The joint budget committee then has 30 days, or until Jan. 10, to review and comment on the estimate. After the committee’s comment period expires, Padilla’s office will certify that the proponents have enough valid signatures to qualify the recall. Then Brown can set the date for the election.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the new process exposes the extent to which lawmakers are attempting to help one of their own.

“Whether you agree with the recall or not, this manipulation of the recall law itself in this very isolated situation is a gross abuse of power,” said Coupal, whose association is the plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the validity of SB 117.

Newman won the historically Republican 29th Senate District seat in 2016, narrowly defeating former Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang.

Four months after taking office, conservative talk radio host Carl DeMaio launched a recall against Newman. DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman, singled Newman out for his vote on a $52 billion transportation measure with the hopes of eliminating Democrats’ two-thirds majority in the Senate.

Newman’s campaign has argued that proponents of the recall attempted to deceive voters by telling them the petition to recall him would reverse the gas tax. Derek Humphrey, Newman’s campaign consultant, called the recall effort a “cynical gaming of the system in the service of partisan goals.”

“We’re confident that voters will see this clear abuse of the recall process for exactly what is, and reject it summarily at the polls regardless of when the election is scheduled,” Humphrey said.

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WORTH REPEATING: “I prayed about it, and I talked to a lot of people about it, and it just felt like the right time to step down.”

– Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Los Angeles, who announced he would resign at the end of the year in light of sexual harassment and assault allegations

LAST CALL FOR BOE: Come January, the Legislature won’t have the Board of Equalization to kick around anymore. But until then, the powerful tax agency has one more four-day meeting where its elected members can overturn decisions by state tax collectors and hand money back to residents. Its last meeting as the state’s final arbiter of tax disputes begins today with a superstar athlete on the agenda. Keyshawn Johnson, once the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL, is asking the agency to return some of the state taxes he paid in the early 2000s when he had homes in California and in Florida. The Legislature in June voted to strip the BOE of almost all of its power and staff. Next month, the new administrative judges in the new Office of Tax Appeals will hear complaints like Johnson’s. The BOE meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. at the agency’s headquarters on N Street.

MUST READ: Owners of some of California’s most important dams – those whose failure could cause residents downstream to lose their lives – often allow deficiencies to linger for years, even though these shortcomings get cited repeatedly in annual inspection reports.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna