California Democrats in Key House Races Back Gas Tax Repeal

Gas tax repeal proposition 6 (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

California Democrats are feeling the heat from Republican efforts to repeal the state’s new gas tax hike — so much so that candidates in key U.S. House races are supporting Proposition 6, the repeal referendum.

For example, Democrat Katie Porter, running against incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) in the 45th congressional district, started a cable ad campaign last week opposing higher gas taxes as polls showed Prop 6 is now highly favored to win.

Democrats hope a Blue Wave will sweep through Republican districts carried by Clinton in the 2016 elections to give Democrats seven of the 23 seats they need to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 elections — and to install House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Speaker again.

But as The Hill reported after the June primaries, Republican House candidates outperformed in California races, and the Democrats’ Blue Wave was at risk of turning into a “mirage.” Only one California district was rated a possible flip, but that was uncertain.

Walters credited the strong Republican performance in the primaries to the huge groundswell of California voters angry at Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democrat-controlled state legislature passing a $52 billion spike in the gas taxes and determined to vote for the Proposition 6 Gas Tax Repeal, sponsored by the popular Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association.

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox and national Republican leaders — including local Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have embraced Prop 6 and have contributed their own campaign funds to the initiative.

The Prop 6 gas tax repeal enjoyed a 51 percent to 38 margin of support among registered voters just before the June primary, according to the May USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll. Non-whites support repeal by an even larger margin, at 56 percent to 36 percent, and Hispanics voters support repeal by a 50 percent to 34 percent margin.

Porter, a UC Irvine Law School professor, who is endorsed by top progressives like Democrat Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), looked to have an excellent probability of flipping the seat to the Democrats earlier this year.

But a Rasmussen Reports Poll of the generic congressional ballot, conducted from August 12 to the 16is calling the election a dead heat, with both parties polling at 44 percent and only 12 percent undecided.

Other Democrats running for Congress against Republicans that have recently triangulated to take a stand against the gas tax include Josh Harder, running against Rep. Jeff Denham for the Central Valley’s 10th district seat; and Jessica Morse, running against Rep. Tom McClintock in the 4th district, who is opposing the gas tax as “double taxation.”

The big money is still lined up against the gas tax repeal for the November 6 election, according to Ballotopia. The “No on Prop 6” ballot committee has raised $20.86 million from a slew of road builders and California Building and Construction Trades unions, compared to the “Yes on Prop 6, Repeal the Gas Tax” ballot committee, which has only raised $3.36 million.




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