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Partisan Hypocrisy Allows Recalled Legislator to Stay A Bit Longer

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Photo of a Josh Newman recall flyer showing the results: You're Fired!
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The voters of Southern California spoke during last week’s primary: They no longer wanted state Sen. Josh Newman to represent them in Sacramento.

GV Wire Reporter David Taub
Opinion
David Taub
So, why is he still around? Don’t hold your breath for a straight answer.
One can’t help but notice the inconsistencies when it comes to swearing in new members. Two Democratic assemblymembers won special elections June 5. They’ve already been sworn into office.
What’s the difference? Those two Democrats replaced Democrats. However, Newman, a Democrat, is being replaced by a Republican.
Can you say hypocrisy in a dysfunctional Legislature?
Despite voters recalling Newman last week, he remains in office. He lashed out in a nine-minute rant on the floor Monday (June 11).

Republicans Push Newman Recall

Voters recalled Newman, who represents Senate District 29 covering Orange, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. Traditionally, Republicans have held that seat. Newman bucked tradition in 2016. The recall vote wasn’t even close—59% said “see ya.” A Republican, Ling Ling Chang, won the related special election to assume the remainder of the term.
Just because a Democrat holds a seat in a conservative area, it doesn’t give him license to vote against voters’ wishes. Case in point, the 2017 gas tax, SB 1. The bill received the minimum 27 votes needed, a two-thirds majority, to pass the Senate. That instantly put Newman in the recall crosshairs.
Among Newman’s complaints Monday was that Republicans unfairly targeted him for his vote. Republicans manipulated the system that led to his political demise, he said.
“I had $3 million spent against me in a campaign of defamatory lies,” Newman said. He noted that he was one of 27 senators, including one Republican, who supported SB 1.
That is true. Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) voted for the gas tax. The difference is, Cannella is termed out. Newman is in the middle of a four-year term. Also, notice that Cannella didn’t run for a new elected office in June.
“Somehow, I was singled out as the so-called deciding vote and targeted for a recall effort which was then put on the ballot through a highly-deceptive signature gathering campaign funded by out-of-district interests,” Newman said.
Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego councilman and Republican activist pushing for Newman’s ouster, openly stated his goals on his website:

“Think of this strategy as the ‘Gazelle Strategy.’ If you have seen Animal Planet, you know that lions hunt for food not by attacking an entire pack of gazelles at once, but targeting the weakest gazelle and taking that one gazelle out. Far more efficient and an almost guaranteed success rate.

“Our campaign to repeal the Car Tax utilizes the Gazelle Strategy. That’s why we propose to launch a Recall Campaign against State Senator Josh Newman (D-Orange County). Senator Josh Newman won by less than 1% of the vote in 2016 – and yet he betrayed his constituents by voting for the Car Tax and Gas Tax hikes. Our campaign intends to file Recall Papers in the next month against Senator Newman and collect 60,000 valid signatures to force him from office.

“After we succeed in recalling Josh Newman, Democrats will lose their Super Majority and will not be able to arbitrarily raise our taxes.”

Newman’s Vote Made the Difference in his Demise

Newman blamed Republicans for unfairly using the recall method.

“In the case of this recall, you sat idly by, fellow members… Or in (this) case, some actively abetted this abuse. This is an abrogation of your solemn obligation.”—Sen. Josh Newman
“A series of loopholes in the recall process has been mined. It exploited a sort of hacking of our government code our constitutional operating system as it were,” Newman said. He then compared it to hacking a computer system.
“In the case of this recall, you sat idly by, fellow members. … Or in (this) case, some actively abetted this abuse. This is an abrogation of your solemn obligation.”
The fact is, voters decided, as is their constitutional right. They agreed with the recall proponents that Newman’s gas tax vote went against their values.
The diatribe continued, with Newman attacking Republicans, who by his account, told him it wasn’t personal.
“It’s pretty darn personal getting someone recalled, getting someone thrown out of their job, getting somebody like me who only wanted to serve expelled. That’s pretty personal,” Newman said.

A Blind Eye to History

The truly remarkable part about Newman’s rant was his tone-deaf recount of history.
Ten years ago, the Democrats played the same shenanigans with Jeff Denham, then a state senator. Denham voted against the 2007 budget. Senate Pro-Tem Don Peralta attempted to exact revenge with a recall effort.
The Democrats engaged in the same activities that Newman complained about.
Gather signatures under false pretenses? Check. Outside money and influence? Check.
That recall effort, however, went down in flames.
Newman had the audacity to say if the shoe was on the other foot …
“And then (Republicans) would always say some version of, you know, if the roles were reversed you would do the exact same thing to us, and I could say, no, I wouldn’t. And I think I can speak for my party. No, we wouldn’t. Not even now. It’s not worth it. It’s not why I came here in the first place. I can’t imagine wanting to win so badly that I would ever do in the pursuit of partisan advantage.”
Somehow, I don’t buy that.
“This is an abuse of the recall process. We are better than this,” Newman said. “This should not happen. I won’t let this happen.”
Well, it happened. The only question is, how much longer will Democrat leaders allow Newman to vote in Sacramento?

When Will Newman Step Aside?

Senate President Pro-Tem Toni Atkins has the power to swear-in Chang. A spokeswoman in her office says that probably will happen prior to the summer recess, which starts July 6.
According to Capital Public Radio News’ Ben Adler, the Republican caucus isn’t pushing the issue.
“I gave them a chance to complain about this yesterday and they declined,” Adler reported on Twitter.
Newman’s removal reduces the Democrats’ supermajority.
Normally, that makes a difference on votes like the gas tax. In the waning days before the summer break, such contested votes may not make the floor anyway.
Just politics as usual.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email