California’s Gas Prices Inch Toward $4 Per Gallon At A Bad Time For Dems

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Gas prices in Southern California are hovering around $4 per gallon as Golden State Democrats attempt to defend an unpopular gas tax outgoing Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2017.

The average pump price for regular gas in the Los Angeles area is hovering around $3.736 a gallon Thursday, up nearly 19 percent from a year earlier, according to the American Automobile Association. It’s an unwelcome development for Democrats who are fighting for their political lives.

The average price in California stood at $3.683 a gallon, up 18 percent from $3.11 in 2017, the AAA said. A portion of the increase stems from the unpopular 12-cent increase in California’s fuel excise tax that went into effect in November. The state tax now sits at 41.7 cents per gallon and is one of the highest in the country.

Nearly 58 percent of voters oppose the tax increase, including 39 percent who say they strongly reject the legislation, according to a survey the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies conducted shortly after the measure was passed in April 2017. Only 35 percent of voters surveyed at the time favored the law, which also hikes vehicle registration fees to fix roads.

Opposition against the measure is widespread. Voters in all major regions of the state other than the Bay Area and all age categories over 30 are unhappy about it. Liberal voters are the only group that largely supports the law. (RELATED: California Dems Are Bailing On Gas Tax Issue As GOP Whips Up Opposition)

Other polls are more split. For instance, more than 47 percent of likely voters favor repeal, while 48 percent oppose nixing the law, according to a poll the Public Policy Institute of California released in February.

Republicans are working to use the tax as a political weapon against Democrats. But some Democratic candidates are rebuking the law.

Democratic congressional candidates Katie Porter of Irvine, Josh Harder of Turlock, Jessica Morse of Pollock Pines and Ammar Campa-Najjar of East County, San Diego now oppose the tax, according to a survey of contenders by The Los Angeles Times.

“I support Proposition 6, which repeals the gas tax,” said Harder, a venture capitalist who is challenging Central Valley GOP Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock in a district that Hillary Clinton won two years ago. He was referring to a coalition of activists pushing a measure – Prop 6 – that would effectively eliminate the tax.

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