The Buzz is the Register’s weekly political news column.
The effort to recall state Sen. Josh Newman and break Democrats’ legislative supermajority has spurred the Fullerton lawmaker and his allies to mount a tooth-and-nail defense, including a blitz of mail, online and cable TV ads urging those who signed recall petitions to withdraw their names and block the recall from reaching the ballot.
A total of 70,678 petition signatures have been validated with 1,706 left to inspect, according to elections officials responsible for a Senate district that straddles the Orange-Los Angeles-San Bernardino County lines. That easily meets the 63,593 signatures required for the recall — provided those rescinding their names don’t pull the total below the threshold.
But that’s an uphill battle for Newman. Since the start date for withdrawing signatures on Aug. 24, about 2,400 voters had filled out cards to remove their names. Newman has until Oct. 10 to reach the total of more than 7,000 necessary to block the recall election.
Newman’s campaign says that signature gatherers misrepresented the petition as an effort to repeal new gas and vehicle registration fees, and that many signed the petitions not knowing it was simply an effort to recall the senator. The gas tax will increase 12 cents beginning Nov.1 and car registration fees are going up about $50 for the average auto beginning next year as part of a plan approved by the Legislature to fund $52 billion in road and transportation improvements over the next decade.
The measure received the bare two-thirds supermajority necessary to pass, with only a single Republican voting for it.
Recall proponents say the drive to unseat Newman is part of a broader strategy to roll back the new taxes and prevent such tax hikes in the future. They deny misleading people in order to get signatures.
Nonetheless, photos in the anti-recall ads show petition gatherers with signs that say “Stop the car tax” and nothing about a recall.
“They told me it was to repeal the gas tax — they didn’t mention a recall of the senator or anything like that,” said Anaheim resident Nelson Perez, who agreed to sign the petition at the urging of a signature gatherer outside a Von’s. “They tricked me.”
Perez, who said he leans Democrat but didn’t recall if he voted for Newman last year, “saw something online” explaining what the petition was actually about. He called the number provided and said an anti-recall…