This is Essential Politics for August 2017. Find our daily look at California political and government news over here.
An embattled state senator could face a recall election as soon as this fall after an appeals court on Monday delayed enforcement of a law crafted by Democrats to slow down the process.
The new law was written with hopes of delaying a recall election for state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) until next year, but his opponents have wanted a special election this year. They targeted the freshman lawmaker after his vote in favor of gas and vehicle taxes as part of a $52-billion transportation plan.
The new law, written by legislative Democrats and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, added significant new steps to certifying a recall election. Newman's opponents challenged the law in court last month, arguing that there is no legal justification for the new law to apply retroactively to pending recall efforts like the one against the senator.
Justice Vance W. Raye's order issued Monday requires state elections officials to set aside the new law until the case is resolved in court. That delay would probably mean a recall election could be held in Newman's Southern California district in November.
"We're very pleased," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., which is supporting the recall and filed the lawsuit against the new rules. "This was an inappropriate action by the Legislature."
Recall backers have submitted more than 96,000 voter signatures to call a special election -- far more than the 63,593 valid signatures needed.
Democrats said Monday night that legislative action had been prompted by charges that voter signatures were being gathered through a promise to repeal the gas tax.
"It's in the overwhelming public interest to safeguard the integrity of the recall process and to ensure that recall petitions are not being signed under false and fraudulent pretenses," said Jonathan Underland, press secretary for Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).
A spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla said the court order is still being reviewed.
August 15, 9:10 a.m.: This story was updated with a quote from the Senate leader's spokesman, who responded on behalf of Sen. Newman.