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California Legislature

Gov. Brown to host fundraiser for senator facing possible recall to show 'he's got his back' after tax vote, aide says

Gov. Jerry Brown is hosting a political fundraiser for Sen. Josh Newman, who faces a possible recall campaign after voting in favor of increased gas taxes. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Gov. Jerry Brown is hosting a political fundraiser for Sen. Josh Newman, who faces a possible recall campaign after voting in favor of increased gas taxes. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown is taking the unusual step of hosting a political fundraiser for state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) because he thinks it is unfair that some activists are trying to recall Newman for his vote favoring an increase in gas taxes to pay for road repairs, Brown’s top aide said Monday.

The Brown camp also is skeptical that opponents of the gas tax bill will be able to carry out their threat of qualifying an initiative to repeal Senate Bill 1 but are prepared to do battle if it makes the ballot.

The governor was a leading proponent of the legislation, which passed the Legislature with no votes to spare and will raise $5.2 billion annually for road repairs and mass transit through an increase in gas taxes and vehicle fees.

“It is unusual for him to do an individual legislator’s fundraiser because if he did one he would have do to lots, but Josh is under unfair attack and so the governor wants to make sure he knows that he’s got his back — that’s why he is stepping out and doing this for him,” said Nancy McFadden, the governor's top aide.

Brown is headlining a fundraiser on May 23 at de Vere’s Irish Pub in Sacramento, billed as an event to support Newman’s reelection campaign. Donors are asked to give up to $4,400 to Newman’s 2020 Senate campaign committee, although the money can be shifted to fighting a recall measure if one qualifies.

Recall papers were filed last month by Elvira Moreno and 59 others, with the aid of conservative radio talk-show host Carl DeMaio. They must collect 63,592 signatures of registered voters in 160 days to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and others have also proposed an initiative drive to put a measure on the 2018 ballot to repeal the gas tax.

McFadden was skeptical the measure would make the ballot.

“We have done a number of initiatives over the past six years so we know how hard it is to qualify,” she said.

If it does qualify?

“We are going to defend the work we did. Absolutely,” McFadden said.

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