Three California State University, Fullerton students have found themselves embroiled in a lawsuit filed by California State Democrats for their recall efforts targeting California State Senator Josh Newman (Fullerton-D) after he was allegedly the deciding factor in a Democratic supermajority passing a significant increase to vehicle registration and gas taxes.
The petition to have Newman recalled garnered 85,000 signatories, easily surpassing the required 63,593. A recall election allows voters to remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before their term has ended.
Amanda McGuire, Ryan Hoskins, and Brooke Paz of the College Republicans (CR) club of CSUF became targets for the Democrats after leading the charge to gather signatures to have Newman recalled and potentially ousted from office.
“The lawsuit is a shameful and frantic attempt to silence voters of the district,” Cal State Fullerton CR Chapter Vice President Amanda McGuire stated in a press release. “The intimidation tactics espoused by the California Democrats should no longer be tolerated. It’s gone too far when college students are being dragged into court for becoming involved with the issues faced by their local cities. I’m proud to be part of the party that fights to fix our government on every level.”
Chapter Secretary Ryan Hoskins concurred. “This lawsuit is the definition of frivolous and more than an obstruction of the very processes that every Californian should hold dear,” Hoskins stated. “By naming myself and my fellow club members as defendants on this lawsuit, the California Democrats are attempting to scare us into backing down from this signature-gathering effort. They will not succeed in breaking our spirit and, with the support of the California Republican Party, we will fight it in the court of law.”
“We’re about focusing in and disciplining these politicians in Sacramento who recklessly raise the gas and car tax and we’re going to start out with Mr. Newman first. We will then turn to the remaining Democrats and tell them, ‘Either you repeal the car tax or we will pick off more of you.’”
Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a radio talk show host, initiated the recall and said there is statewide interest in targeting Newman with a recall drive as punishment for his vote and to deprive the Democrats of their two-thirds majority in the Senate.
“We’re about focusing in and disciplining these politicians in Sacramento who recklessly raise the gas and car tax and we’re going to start out with Mr. Newman first,” DeMaio said. “We will then turn to the remaining Democrats and tell them, ‘Either you repeal the car tax or we will pick off more of you.’”
The controversy began earlier this year when the state legislature narrowly passed a $52 billion transportation plan, without a vote to spare, which includes a vehicle registration increase of approximately $50 per vehicle and a gas hike of 12 cents per gallon. Republicans have targeted Newman because he barely won the senate seat last year and is vulnerable to a Republican takeover in conservative Orange County.
Sixty-four supporters of Senator Josh Newman filed the lawsuit in Sacramento June 29, two days after the recall petition was submitted, claiming signature gatherers misled voters by allegedly saying the $52 billion plan would be repealed.
Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said some signs being used to gather signatures were misleading. “It says ‘repeal the car tax.’ Now you sign that, you’re not repealing the car tax.”
Newman claims the recall petition “reeks of political cynicism and desperation.” He asserts that while some republicans call him “the deciding vote” on the bill, roll call is done in alphabetical order and the most crucial vote was that of Republican Cannella.
Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown has inserted himself and his office into the foray by signing a controversial bill the day the lawsuit was filed to revise the rules of recall, which has Republicans in an uproar. The bill is one of 17 pieces of legislation related to the state budget.
The proposed law would create a new process to review the costs associated with a recall election and additionally provides voters with the option to withdraw their signature from a recall petition 30 days after it has been submitted to officials, effectively adding months to the existing timeframe to certify a recall election for the ballot and practically ensures that nearly all recall elections are held during the June primary.
Republicans are in an upheaval because, according to Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), the proposal was slipped into a budget bill that also benefits veterans, so it serves to “bastardize the process” of passing the budget.
Jim Brulte, chairman of the California Republican Party, called the prospect of the new law “a clear abuse of power.” Brulte said, “The Democrats’ attempt to quell the movement by retroactively changing the rules is pure political gamesmanship and completely undermines our democratic process.”
Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), stated, “I haven’t seen one Democratic member get up in support of this bill, because you can’t defend it.”