Republicans are hoping that a potential California measure to repeal the state’s gas tax can help them maintain control of the House.
Democrats are banking on defeating vulnerable California Republicans to take back the House, and Republicans are in need of something to increase turnout in an election cycle in which GOP candidates are in danger of not qualifying for the general election ballot for the state’s gubernatorial and senatorial contests.
As The Hill pointed out, Democrats are targeting 10 Republican-held House seats, including those held by Reps. Mimi Walters, Tom McClintock, Jeff Denham, David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Steve Knight, Ed Royce, Dana Rohrabacher, Darrell Issa, and Duncan Hunter.
Democrats are devoting significant resources to these races in the Golden State and have even opened up a West Coast office in Southern California because the “party sees those California seats as such an important part of their path back to a majority in the House,” according to The Hill.
Top California Republicans like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reportedly believe that “Republican voters who might otherwise sit on their hands come November would be motivated to show up to vote to repeal the tax increase that went into effect last fall.” The California GOP recently donated $200,000 to the campaign to repeal the gas tax.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which spearheaded the Proposition 13 revolution, is also backing the repeal measure, and supporters of the initiative are reportedly close to gathering the necessary 585,000 signatures to get the initiative, which would also require future gas taxes to be approved directly by voters, on the ballot in the fall.
California Governor Jerry Brown, who signed the gas tax into law last year, vowed to do everything in his power to defeat repeal efforts.
“Fighting a gas tax may appear to be good politics, but it isn’t,” Brown said during his State of the State address this year. “I will do everything in my power to defeat any repeal effort that gets on the ballot, you can count on that.”
But recent polling has found that a measure to repeal the gas tax could spur Republicans to the polls.
A December poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found that a majority of likely voters (52%) would support repealing the gas tax. And as the Sacramento Bee noted, 80 percent of Republicans in the UC Berkeley poll favored repealing the gas tax.
A March poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that voters were split on the issue (47% supported, 48% opposed), but majorities of Republicans (61%) and independents (52%) favored repealing the gas tax.