What if Proposition 6, brought to the ballot largely through a campaign led by Carl DeMaio, was only partially about repealing Senate Bill 1?
It certainly looks like Prop 6 is going to fail, with a coalition of businesses, labor, and politicians raising ten times more to oppose it than supporters have raised. The argument that taxpayers collectively stand to lose more–via transportation infrastructure projects– is prevailing over the claim individual pain–more $$$ at the gas pump–used by signature gatherers to get the measure on the ballot.
At this point, it appears the real winner will be Carl DeMaio, armed with a large, national network of small-dollar donors and statewide recognition for his Reform California platform.
On Monday, he called a press conference to announce a recall effort against state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Mind you, Becerra hasn’t actually been elected yet–he was appointed to fill the seat after Kamala Harris won her race for US Senate–but that’s not stopping DeMaio from filing papers with the Secretary of State’s Office to form a campaign committee for a possible Becerra recall effort.
He blames Becerra for providing what he said was a misleading ballot title for Proposition 6, the measure repealing increases in the gas tax and vehicle fees and requiring ⅔ voter approval for any future increases. DeMaio estimated the cost of getting the 856,335 signatures for a recall effort would be about $1 million.
From the Los Angeles Times:
DeMaio said a recall would not be needed if California voters approve Proposition 6 next week. He noted that his group successfully recalled Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton from office in June over his support for the higher gas tax.
Becerra is up for election on the Nov. 6 ballot, but DeMaio said many people mailed in their ballots before they were made aware of allegations of the misleading ballot title.
DeMaio complained that the ballot title drafted by Becerra’s office does not make clear that Proposition 6 would repeal fuel tax increases.
Retired Judge Steven Bailey, the Republican running against Becerra for attorney general this year, attended the press conference and accused the incumbent of “lying to the voters.”
The recall effort will go nowhere, as party regulars and campaign consultants have no desire to fund a campaign to challenge a court-validated title and summary.
In a perfect world, of course, making complicated legislative and constitutional propositions understandable to voters would be a non-partisan process. The fact is both parties, as was largely true with redistricting and top two elections, have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. And DeMaio’s lawsuit will do nothing but get all the anti-partisan forces riled up.
It would be easy to say the recall effort is just the latest in what Prop 6 backers call a “ninja” campaign, necessitated by the GOP essentially walking away from the effort once it qualified for the ballot. Don’t, however, discount the value of the addresses they’ll be collecting in looking at DeMaio’s future prospects.
The party’s hope was for Proposition 6 to serve as a vehicle to drive Republican voters to the polls, a desire that’s largely failed to materialize. Polling in the 49th Congressional district, an area where Prop 6 is popular, shows the GOP candidate trailing Democrat Mike Levin by double digits.
Qualifying the effort attracted donations from Republicans nationwide, with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin giving $50,000 and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, pitching in with another $25,000. Republicans running for Congress in California coughed more than $700 thousand, and the State party organization contributed $465,000.
But since Prop. 6 made the ballot in late June, support has virtually disappeared. The last party contribution listed–for $504.63– was made on July 17.
In early October, DeMaio and other backers of Proposition 6 called for a federal investigation into what he said were illegal efforts by local government agencies to use public money to fight the repeal effort.
The group also mailed 2 million postcards to voters claiming to “correct” the title of the initiative. They were official enough looking to draw criticism, though there was a small disclosure at the bottom saying the mailer is not from election officials.
From the Sacramento Bee:
The official ballot title for Proposition 6 — which begins “Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding” — has caused much consternation for its supporters.
The measure is trailing by a wide margin, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Proposition 6 campaign supporters blame the state attorney general’s office for writing a summary that they believe conceals what the initiative would really do: Reverse recent increases to fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.
“The politicians are trying to deceive the voters,” said Carl DeMaio, chairman for Yes on Prop 6. “They are trying to bully voters into approving a measure that costs them more.”
Veteran Sacramento watcher Scott Lay calls DeMaio’s efforts a victory for the “campaign-industrial complex.”
De Maio and advisors likely are seeing the breadth of their small dollar support and thinking how it can be turned in to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) of the 21st Century. The organization, born from the 1978 campaign for Proposition 13, captured a large direct mail audience of small-dollar donors in an era preceding the internet. They were frequently older homeowners who saw the biggest benefit from the cap an inflationary protections on property taxes.
Let’s face it, the youngest voter who cast a ballot for Prop. 13 is or would be 58 years old now, and those 18-year-olds then were unlikely to vote, unlikely to be homeowners, and unlikely to be a Prop. 13 supporter. Okay, to put it with delicate crass, most of the HJTA crowd is no longer a voter or contributor…
…Can De Maio and fellow Prop. 6 supporters can be the new Howard Jarvis-style organization, replacing one that has lost progressing relevance each decade? That seemed to be the goal of yesterday’s presser, attended by, well, a few press folks but few others. It is true that the historic office of the attorney general is in the Capitol, but he’s actually on I Street. Black Lives Matter Sacramento knows where the office is.
Failing up seems to be one of Carl DeMaio’s best attributes. With the state Republican Party declining into irrelevance, he’s poised to lead the Red Resistance in a very Blue State.
The November 2018 Cheat Sheet and Progressive Voter Kit has a little bit of everything, from our endorsements in a printable format, other voter guide info, and answers to questions about the process of voting.
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