Jon Coupal was among friends May 27 when he was the guest speaker at a Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. meeting.

Coupal is the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., founded by Jarvis and his wife, Estelle, to rein in property taxes in California. Proposition 13, which limits property tax rates and increases, was passed in 1978, by an overwhelming majority. Protecting it has been the statewide association's goal since the passage.

"Howard recognized that we couldn't just pass legislation and walk away," Coupal said. "It needs protection, and that's what we do."

Candidates for elected office and propositions are carefully vetted for their impact on Proposition 13.

The association has one major criterion for candidates — Coupal said it made no difference if they had a D or an R by their names: Will they support Proposition 13?

The association is endorsing Meg Whitman for governor.

Asked who has the best chance of defeating incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer in November, assuming she wins the primary as expected, Coupal said, "All of the above."

The "above" would be former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina, former Rep. Tom Campbell and Rep. Chuck DeVore, who are vying for the Republican spot in the primary.

"I think [Boxer] has problems against all three of them," Coupal said. "Carly may have an advantage because she is a woman, but some issues have been raised about Hewlett Packard.

"The gold standard is Chuck DeVore and if he debates Boxer, it will be no contest."

Orange County treasurer candidate Shari Friendenrich has been endorsed by the Jarvis association and by city Treasurer Laura Parisi.

The same criterion is applied to propositions.

Coupal's recommendations for Tuesday's ballot:

No on Proposition 14 — open primaries.

"It's a deal with the devil."

Definitely no on Proposition 15, which raises fees on lobbyists to fund public financing for the secretary of state starting in 2014.

"Not a big deal, but it's a foot in the door."

No position on Proposition 16, which would require two-thirds voter approval for government-operated utilities, supported by PG&E, the energy supplier for Northern California.

"My personal view is the message is good, but it's the wrong messenger."