Led by San Diego’s AM600 KOGO’s Carl DeMaio, conservatives have caused a political earthquake in Sacramento. Some pundits say it may be the largest political shakeup since Howard Jarvis’ 1978 Prop. 13 initiative.
"The outpouring of voter disgust with the car and gas tax hikes should be a message that Sacramento politicians should hear loud and clear," DeMaio said at a news conference.
Starting last November, DeMaio’s Stop the Gas Tax Initiative petition set a record for the largest number of voter signatures collected in the first month — 100,000.
On April 30, the campaign turned in what they believe is 964,000 valid voter signatures, 40 percent more than required to qualify for the November general election. But more importantly, more than the 10-percent-over threshold in which Governor Brown could call for each signature to be verified, thus delaying the vote until the 2020 election.
Governor Brown has labeled the campaign “a bunch of freeloaders,” indicating California motorists need to pay their share for road maintenance. The governor used the term “political terrorists” to describe the signature gatherers.
“Governor Brown and Sacramento politicians were assuming we would never collect the signatures and they are shell-shocked by our success,” DeMaio responded.
Even the Republican caucus refused to help DeMaio’s campaign when he met with them on April 10. DeMaio made a failed, in-person plea to Republican senators and assemblymen for help in last-minute funding for signatures.
DeMaio: “I felt like a baseball coach saying it's time to get back in the game.” Since the filling of the petition several Republican legislators have jumped on the bandwagon.
Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), representing voters in Cardiff by the Sea east to Vista and north into Orange County, has been in the forefront of the repeal campaign. So have Assembly members Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) and Randy Voepel (R-Santee).
It appears that one gubernatorial candidate that jumped on DeMaio’s campaign in the beginning, Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox, is reaping the rewards. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows Cox has moved into second place against Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, outpacing former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and State Senator Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles).
As DeMaio charged last year when the governor signed the gas and car tax (part of Senate Bill 1), on January 30, the California State Transportation Agency announced rail projects totaling $51.9 million, funded by SB1 money, partially derived from the increased gas and car taxes.
According to DeMaio, his Reform California organization is considering an initiative to repeal the California sanctuary laws, and he might run in 2020 for mayor of San Diego.