With its share of registered voters continuing to slip and no particularly promising candidates for governor or the U.S. Senate, California Republicans are gathering in Anaheim this weekend in hopes of reversing their sunken fortunes by stoking voter anger.
"The party is focusing on some key issues of importance to voters, like the gas tax increase/repeal and other fiscal issues," said Harmeet Dhillon, Republican national committeewoman for California.
The state GOP, she said, will also sharpen efforts to recall Orange County Sen. Josh Newman, whose surprise election last year gave Democrats a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Gas tax opponents, led by San Diego Republican Carl DeMaio, have apparently collected enough signatures to place Newman's recall on the ballot.
Speaking before a group of Democratic activists at an Indivisible Orange County meeting in Fullerton Wednesday night, Newman called the recall attempt a "power grab" by GOP political operatives hoping to restore the Senate seat to a Republican.
"It's malarkey that this is about the gas tax," Newman said. "I'm being targeted because I'm vulnerable."
Both Republicans running for governor, Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen and San Diego businessman John Cox, are supporting gas tax repeal efforts. Cox announced this week he would put some of his own money behind a signature-gathering campaign for a version of repeal that includes a provision that any future gas tax increase would require voter approval.