Energy

California Voters Show Disdain For High Gas Tax By Recalling Its Biggest Supporter

REUTERS/Aly Song

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

One of California’s most ardent gas tax supporters got the boot in a recall election, eliminating the Democratic supermajority in the state senate and demonstrating voters’ unhappiness with California’s costly gas tax.

While all Americans are dealing with increasing gas prices, California residents are dealing with the highest rates in the country. AAA currently shows The Golden State paying an average of $3.73 per gallon, more than any other state. The rate is even higher when the state’s major cities are included. Like the rest of the U.S., California is facing higher prices because of a litany of geopolitical and national issues. However, pain at the pump is harsher because of a very unpopular gas tax passed by state legislators.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a gas tax bill that was meant to raise funds for new road and bridge construction in April 2017. The law officially went into effect in November, charging an extra 12 cents per gallon and sending California drivers into a frenzy. A repeal campaign has been underway and it has claimed its first win. (RELATED: Jerry Brown Wants To Tax Drinking Water To Fix California’s Busted Up Infrastructure)

Josh Newman — a Democratic state senator from Orange County and a major supporter of the gas tax — was recalled Tuesday night and replaced with former Republican assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang. The vote was pretty overwhelming, with nearly two thirds of voters choosing to recall Newman. A last-minute endorsement from Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont did not appear to help his re-election efforts. Newman’s defeat was part of a wider GOP-led campaign to repeal the gas tax. The issue will likely be on the November ballot.

Despite the overwhelming outcome, Newman has been reluctant to concede the race. Upon publication of this article, no mention of concession has appeared on Newman’s Twitter, Facebook or official website page. Derek Humphrey, a Newman spokesman, said the early numbers were “not what we were hoping for,” but stopped short of admitting defeat. Humphrey also termed the recall election “an undemocratic special interest power grab.”

Newman’s defeat carries extra weight in that it ends the Democratic Party’s supermajority in the California state senate.

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