Tuesday, January 02, 2018

When all else fails, clog the ballot

What's a California Republican to do? Their president sits at only 30 percent approval in the state. Most of our Republican Congress members just voted for a tax bill that transfers wealth to rich people at the expense of the working and middle classes, in part by stripping Californians of much of our ability to deduct state taxes from the federal levy. And then there are their statewide candidates: with our primary system which simply advances the top two vote-getters in June to the November vote, it is very likely that we'll see two Democratic candidates for governor and two for Senator in the fall campaign -- and thus no Republicans at all running for the most important offices.

GOPers are in a pickle, so they are resorting to a very Californian expedient: they are trying to change their electoral fortunes with a ballot initiative:

A measure hurtling toward the November 2018 ballot would repeal the 12-cent per gallon gasoline tax increase approved this past legislative session to pay for road repairs, bridge maintenance and some public transit. Granted, no one wants to pay more for gasoline. But potholes don’t fill themselves.

... [House Majority Leader Kevin] McCarthy, a guy who knows politics, dumped $100,000 into the initiative to repeal the gas tax. Rep. Mimi Walters, an Orange County Republican, and Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, chipped in $50,000 each, recent campaign finance reports show.

... [Early] polling did give some faint hope to Republicans, at least in the short term. The proposed initiative to repeal the gasoline tax hike led with 52 percent of likely voters. That’s narrow, and a campaign against the measure could derail it. But 81 percent of Republicans support repeal. Therein lies an opportunity for McCarthy and Republican consultants to gin up turnout among GOP voters in a year when they could have few other reasons to show up to the polls.

Dan Morain, Sacramento Bee

A broad coalition of business, labor and local government leaders, including some Republicans, support this gas tax because we need the infrastructure work and see no other source from which to pay for it. Nothing about recent Congressional activity suggests California will be getting federal money.

This Republican initiative is not, on its face, likely to win: an initiative that starts with only 52 percent approval can be defeated with a cheap campaign against it -- unless sponsors want to throw millions into TV ads to pass it. It might even fail with all that advertising unless we have a recession. Will GOPers, who will be defending ten or so vulnerable Congressional seats, really want to waste cash on this venture? Not likely.

Gas tax repeal is just more initiative clutter for California voters to slog through.

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