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California State Senator Newman recall effort uncertain as deadline for rescinding signatures passes

File: Freshman state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, holds his daughter Cecily, six months, as he waits to be sworn-in to the state Senate, in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Newman was joined for the ceremony by his wife, Darcy Lewis, right.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
FILE: State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) holds his daughter, Cecily, as he waits to be sworn into the state Senate, in Sacramento, California, on Dec. 5, 2016. Newman was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Darcy Lewis, right.

Those who signed a petition supporting a recall election for California Sen. Josh Newman faced a deadline by close of business Tuesday if they wanted to withdraw their support for the effort.

Opponents of Newman, a Democrat from Fullerton representing the 29th Senate District, want him out because of his support for the new gas tax increase set to take effect Nov 1. Under the new law, gasoline taxes are expected to increase by 12 cents per gallon and vehicle fees will also rise, generating $5 billion in annual revenue.

Newman’s supporters said those who gathered signatures for the recall misrepresented the petition as an effort to repeal the gas tax. They launched a "Stop The Recall" campaign and urged those who signed the petition to rescind their names.

Sponsors of the recall could not be reached by deadline for comment on this story.

As a Democrat, Newman’s seat is key to the party’s supermajority in the state Legislature. With a supermajority, the Democrats can adopt taxes, approve measures for the ballot, and more, without Republican support.

Newman represents residents in cities such as Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park and West Covina.

Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino county election officials — all of which have voters within Newman's district boundaries — have until Oct. 24 to verify those who are withdrawing their signatures and to submit those numbers to the state.

On Oct. 25, the Secretary of State's office will determine if the petition has enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election. About 7,000 signatures would need to be rescinded to avoid a recall, according to Sam Mahood, press secretary for the office.

Derek Humphrey, a spokesman for Newman's campaign, said thousands of voters have come forward to withdraw their signatures. He charged the tricking of voters to sign the petition was widespread.

"I think it does damage to our democracy because voters start to wonder who they can trust," Humphrey said. "It's going to make it harder for campaigns on both sides." 

Meanwhile, legal challenges of the recall process are pending, filed by Newman's opponents, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the association, said a judge is still reviewing their filing. 

Among other issues, the challenges could determine the timing of a recall election, if one goes forward. Until the legal issues are resolved, any election preparations are on hold, according to Neal Kelley, Orange County's registrar of voters.  

"We do nothing until the court hearing is finalized,” Kelley said.