By Judy Lin, CALmatters
Business groups are threatening to wage a pricey campaign to stop California’s Republican officials from trying to repeal a new state gas tax—warning them not to “create new political adversaries.” But the politicians aren’t flinching.
Eleven GOP members of the state’s congressional delegation, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, responded that they aren’t as worried about “political threats” as they are about the financial burden the $5.2 billion-a-year gas would place on their constituents. And GOP Assemblyman Travis Allen, who’s running for governor and sponsoring one of the two repeal measures, struck a Trumpian tone, labeling the business groups “special interest thugs.”
Once political allies, Republican incumbents and activists are openly sparring with pro-business groups for backing the transportation package Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed earlier this year. Such infighting between traditional conservative interests seems counterproductive for a party with diminished clout—but the GOP has little to lose in California.
With Democrats holding every statewide office and two-thirds majorities of the Legislature, the party of limited government hopes to make gains at the ballot box by repealing key Democratic measures. That’s why Republicans aim to gather enough voter signatures to place one or more gas tax repeal initiatives on the November ballot next year.
The GOP’s goal: rally conservatives and cut across party lines by inciting a taxpayer revolt. Success would boost turnout and improve prospects for Republicans in other races.
“If things continue as is in California politics, I think this is how future elections will look,” said Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution research fellow at…