Local

Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman recalled by voters

California state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, listens as lawmakers debate a recall election measure Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Sacramento.
California state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, listens as lawmakers debate a recall election measure Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Sacramento.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Listen to story

00:43
Download this story 0.0MB

In a historic move, California Sen. Josh Newman has been recalled by voters in his mostly Orange County district, according to preliminary results in Tuesday's primary election.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the vote was 60 percent in favor of Newman's ouster.

Republicans targeted the Democratic legislator for his vote to raise the gas tax and vehicle fees last year. Gas taxes rose by 12 cents a gallon and vehicles fees were increased, raising more than $5 billion a year for transportation projects.

Riding a wave of dissatisfaction over the taxes and fees, the Republicans targeted Newman to ostensibly teach the majority Democrats in Sacramento a lesson.

Newman squeaked into office in 2016 by 2,500 votes, turning a formerly red state Senate seat blue and delivering a two-thirds supermajority to Democrats in the Legislature.

But it was a narrow victory, one that made him vulnerable to Republicans looking to harness popular resentment over the recent gas tax increase. The loss of Newman further threatens the Democrats' supermajority in the Senate and its ability to pass taxes and fee increases.

Newman did not concede Tuesday night at his campaign headquarters. But his campaign spokesman, Derek Humphrey, railed at Republicans who promoted the recall effort.

"The Republicans spent a lot of money to lie, to get this thing on the ballot and they got what they wanted. They got a redo of the election that they lost two years ago with half the number of people voting," said Humphrey. "So it’s the very definition of an undemocratic special interest power grab."

A related election Tuesday picked Newman's successor. Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang will replace him after drawing 34 percent of the vote.

San Diego Republican politician and radio show host Carl DeMaio led the recall effort, and he’s also pushing a ballot measure to repeal the gas tax legislation known as S.B. 1. The repeal measure could land on the November ballot.

"This is a revolt, it’s an uprising, it’s a movement and it’s about to hit Sacramento in a very big way," DeMaio said.

A recent USC poll showed more than half of voters support the repeal of the new gas taxes and fees. 

This story has been updated.