Democrat Josh Newman Faces Recall Tuesday over Gas Tax Vote

Josh Newman (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Voters in California’s 29th State Senate district will decide the fate of freshman Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) on Tuesday, when he faces a recall over his 2017 vote to increase gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon, along with other fees.

Newman portrays himself as the victim of partisan politics — a complaint with which much of the local media agrees.

Republicans have blamed him for casting the deciding vote that gave Governor Jerry Brown the two-thirds majority he needed to push the gas tax hike through the state legislature without a referendum. However, other legislators could also be blamed — including a Republican who crossed party lines in exchange for $400 million in pork for his district.

What makes Newman the target is the fact that he is a vulnerable Democrat in a Republican district. Defeating him was the easiest route to ending the Democrats’ two-thirds supermajority — a fact organizers of the recall campaign quietly acknowledge. (In the interim, Democrats lost their supermajority after several members were forced to quit over “#metoo” sexual harassment allegations.)

Democrats, too, have played hardball, changing state law to move the date for Newman’s recall election so that he would be more likely to survive. Newman also revived old, debunked smears against Republican Carl DeMaio, the Republican organizing the recall campaign against him.

Regardless, political observers are predicting a tough fight for Newsom. The Sacramento Bee notes that Democrats are doing their best to save his seat: “California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and her caucus of Democrats are gathering ‘hundreds’ of volunteers to canvas his district this weekend as part of a voter turnout campaign. Perhaps sensing vulnerability, Newman is the top Election Day priority for Senate Democrats.”

Voting by mail has begun, and in-person voting will take place on Tuesday, June 5.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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