CA Republicans feel post-budget backlash

SACRAMENTO The buzz at the /*California Republican Convention*/ was about six /*GOP*/ lawmakers, most of whom broke their anti-tax pledge last Thursday by voting for the budget compromise. The compromise included nearly $13 billion in new taxes.

Those lawmakers were not very popular in the anti-tax circles; some even called them "losers."

"You voted for the largest tax increase in the history of any state in the country when you could have stopped it. Bad call!" said Jon Fleischman (Calif. Republican Party vice chairman) to state Senator Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) on Saturday.

"It's hard to walk into a place and have people boo at you and chide you and call you names," said Maldonado, who provided the swing vote in the Senate.

Convention delegates even voted to punish the six Republican lawmakers by denying them, and any other GOP members in the future, party funding for their next election.

"They're going to have to do it without the support from the state Republican party," said Fleischman. "And that's really less a message to them as it is to all the Republicans who will be running for office now and in the future."

Some of the six Republicans acknowledge it will be tough to either keep their seats or run for higher office without their party's backing. But, they say they will try to reason with voters.

"I'm very anxious to go forward to the next election, and to make the case on why I believe this was a good budget vote, even if it was a hard one," said Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R-Hesperia).

"I'm accountable to the voters, not to special groups within the party," said Maldonado. "My party needs to change. If it doesn't change, it's going to continue to stay in the minority status."

No one knows if the threat of no party funding will have any effect on the next budget negotiations. Californians will just have to wait and see whether any Republicans would be willing to compromise with tax hikes the next time around.

Party money is important. Depending on the size of the district, it can put up anywhere from $40,000 to $3 million per campaign. Last year, the Republican party says it spent $36 million to get its candidates elected.


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