GOP swing votes get harsh backlash

February 23, 2009 6:39:14 PM PST
State GOP leaders are going after their own after some Republicans helped pass a budget that included more than $14 billion in new taxes and fees.

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The buzz at the California Republican Convention this past weekend was about the six GOP lawmakers, most of whom broke their anti-tax pledge last Thursday by voting for the budget compromise that included nearly $14 billion in new taxes.

Those lawmakers were not very popular in these anti-tax circles; some even called them losers. One confrontation was targeted at Senator Abel Maldonado (R) of Santa Maria, who provided the swing vote in the Senate.

"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, the California Republican Party Vice Chairman on Saturday.

"It's hard to walk into a place and have people boo at you and chide you and call you names," said State Senator Maldonado.

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

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

Some of the six Republicans acknowledge it'll be tough to either keep their seats or run for higher office without their party's backing, but they'll 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 Assembly member Anthony Adams (R) of 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."

It'll be interesting to see what this threat of no party funding will do to the next budget negotiations and 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 their candidates elected.

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