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Spending hits $1.5M in Democratic state senator's recall fight

Conservatives want to recall state Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) as part of an effort to repeal recent gas and vehicle tax increases and eliminate the Democrats' supermajority in the legislature.
Jill Replogle
Supporters of the effort to recall state Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) recruit petition signers in Fullerton on May 11, 2017. Newman has complained that signature gatherers are falsely informing voters that they're circulating petitions to repeal the gas tax. Carl DeMaio, who is behind the recall effort, denies the allegations.

About a month and a half into the campaign to recall Democratic state Senator Josh Newman, supporters and opponents have collectively raised about $1.5 million.

The freshman senator, whose district straddles Orange, L.A. and San Bernardino counties, is being targeted by Republicans for his role in passing a 12-cent increase in the per-gallon tax on gasoline to fund transportation improvements.

The effort to recall him is being bankrolled by the state Republican Party, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Reform California, a group started by conservative, San Diego-based talk show host Carl DeMaio. In all, they’ve spent at least $640,000 on signature-gathering, social media ads, robo calls and other recall-related expenses. 

Republicans have rallied around the recall effort as a means of breaking the Democrats’ supermajority in the Legislature and their power to raise taxes without Republican support. 

Supporters of Newman have dedicated at least $750,000 to fighting off the recall, with the bulk of contributions coming from the California Democratic Party, the California Teachers’ Association and other unions. 

County registrars of voters have already received more than the number of signatures needed to trigger a recall election. But they haven’t yet verified how many of those signatures are valid. 

Around 90 voters have formally asked election officials to remove their signatures from petitions they already signed, according to the Orange County, San Bernardino and Los Angeles registrars’ offices.