Ongoing drama in the effort to recall state Sen. Josh Newman continued Thursday as supporters of the Fullerton Democrat filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the recall petition submitted Tuesday, March 27. The nearly 85,000 signatures on the petition are expected to qualify the recall for the ballot.
The suit, filed June 29 in Sacramento on behalf of 64 voters from Newman district, says the petition should be thrown out because signature gatherers falsely billed the recall as a repeal of a pending gas tax hike and because claims in the petition were false.
The brouhaha erupted earlier this year after the state legislature passed a $52 billion transportation plan, gaining the required two-thirds majority without a single vote to spare. The bill includes a 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax and a vehicle-registration fee hike of about $50 for the average car.
The Republican proponents of the recall have said they are targeting Newman because his seat is vulnerable to takeover by a Republican — he barely won election in an upset last year — and they hope to eliminate Democrats two-thirds supermajority that allows them to increase taxes without a single GOP vote. In the transportation bill, one Democrat voted against it but a Republican voted for it to reach the two-thirds threshhold.
Recall leaders have said that pitching the recall as an effort to “stop the car tax” is justified in part because the threat of further recalls could prompt Democrats to reverse their decision. Democratic lawmakers have stood steadfastly behind the bill, which would repair roads and fund rail projects throughout the state.
The lawsuit also calls for the recall election to be blocked because, it claims, details within the petition are false. The suit specifically mentions a claim that money would go elsewhere in the state for train projects but not to Newman’s district, which includes portions of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
But Fred Whitaker, chairman of the Orange County GOP, stood behind the statement, saying millions had been earmarked for elsewhere in the state while it’s unclear what money could come to Newman’s district.
Sacramento Democrats passed a law earlier this month designed to help Newman in the recall effort. While a recall originally was expected to be held in a special election late this year if enough valid signatures were submitted, the change would likely push such a ballot measure to the primary in June 2018. Democrats are more…