Anyone who doesn’t think there are political implications for Republicans
who support the deal reached by legislative leaders
last week, just talk to Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Fresno.
After months of negotiation, Cogdill’s decision to go along with a budget package that included
more than $14 billion in tax increases cost the Fresno Republican
his leadership post. In the Assembly, Chuck DeVore,
R-Irvine, made a motion over the weekend to strip that
house’s Republican leader, Mike Villines, R-Clovis, at the urging of conservative radio shock jocks
John and Ken.
The political shock waves from the budget stand-off, still ongoing as of this writing, are being felt
throughout Republican California. And as the party
faithful prepare to gather in Sacramento this weekend,
some are out for blood.
“There are moves afoot to try to censure members who
support the tax increase,” DeVore said. But perhaps surprisingly, DeVore does
not think censure is a good idea.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for the convention,” he said. “This is a political dispute. It’s not like there’s any moral shortcoming” among supporters of the budget deal.
But that hasn’t stopped some from launching fledgling recall efforts
against would-be supporters of the budget deal. DeVore said there
has been talk among a conservative group called the
Atlas PAC about bankrolling potential recall campaigns
against Republican lawmakers.
Atlas PAC’s chairman, Lee
Lowrey, said recall efforts were ready to go. And his
group has Anthony Adams in its sites.
“We’ll be the leaders on that,” he said of a potential Adams recall. “He’s a brand-new Assemblyman, and as far as we’re concerned he’s going to be gone.”
Lowrey said holding the line on taxes is about all
that’s left for Republicans’ political identity in California. “All of us can understand that as Republicans we can
disagree on abortion or even gay marriage. But if we
can’t all agree on taxes, what’s the point of the party?”
But the fear of repercussions is in the air. Republican
lawmakers this week said a vote for the budget plan
was akin to political suicide. When word leaked out
that Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, was considering a vote for the budget,
a group in Camarillo went out and registered the Web
This threat is not going unnoticed by lawmakers. During
the budget stalemate Monday, Maldonado’s lap top on the Senate floor was open to the John
and Ken Web site, a meeting group for the most vehement
conservative opponents of the budget deal.
So far, only five of the Legislature’s 44 Republicans have indicated they would vote for the
budget deal reached last week. In the Assembly, Assemblymembers
Roger Neillo, R-Sacramento, and Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia, have indicated they would vote for the deal
along with Villines. In the Senate, Sen. Roy Ashburn,
R-Bakersfield, is expected to support the deal along
But now that the Republicans have ousted their leader,
insiders say all bets are off.
The budget has become radioactive among Republican
activists, who rail against the new taxes that are
part of the package. But statewide surveys show more
of an appetite for increased taxes. A January poll
from the Public Policy Institute of California shows
voters are evenly split over a temporary sales-tax increase. The survey also showed they supported
an increase in the vehicle license fee by a 58-41 percent margin.
Both levies are part of the deal hammered out by lawmakers
But the statewide survey has done little to sway most
Republican elected officials. This week, both of the
major Republican candidates for governor, Insurance
Commissioner Steve Poizner and former eBay executive
Meg Whitman, spoke out against the budget proposal
Poizner suggested lawmakers scrap the current blueprint
and start over. In an interview with the Sacramento
Bee, Poizner criticized the budget deal for hitting
the middle class the hardest.
“They don’t have the guts to raise taxes on rich people because
rich people have lobbyists and rich people are mobile
and rich people will leave,” he said.
This is really the most disgusting, terrible thing
I’ve heard in a long time - the idea of raising $14 billion of taxes on working class people who are about
to lose their homes.”
Poizner suggested the Legislature pass an emergency
six-month package to inject the state with enough cash
to survive the current budget year.
“Californians can no longer afford the government they
have,” Whitman said at a speech in San Jose this week. She
said if she were governor, she would not support the
deal worked out with Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislative
“California’s middle class is being taxed to the point where they
just can’t afford to live here anymore. I love California too
much to let it fail, and I refuse to sit by and watch