The Chairman of the Republican party in Orange County says the number of people signing petitions seeking a recall of Democratic State Senator Josh Newman (D- Fullerton) has advanced faster than expected and now believes the issue driving the effort could be used statewide in the 2018 election.
Fred Whitaker, who also serves on the Orange City Council, says the recent vote by the California legislature to raise the state's gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon has energized the party.
"The polling is off the charts, people are upset that they're probably going to have anywhere from $400 to $1400 more a year in their gas tax, and another $75 to $175 more a year on their vehicle license fees," Whitaker said Sunday on NBC4 Los Angeles.
But the state party may soon face a different test on a separate tax issue coming out of Washington.
The Trump administration is considering eliminating the federal deduction for state and local taxes. Such an action would result in higher taxes for mostly blue states such as California, New York and Illinois.
Whitaker sees benefits in the move.
"This actually could be a curb on California's out of control spending because the wealthy that pay all the income tax in this state won't have that deduction federally anymore, and it might make them think twice about whether they choose to live here," Whitaker said.
But many others in the business community, such as City National Bank's Russell Goldsmith, are strongly opposed to the move.
"What is amusing about (Mr. Whitaker's) comments is that he's upset about a modest increase in the gas tax but he's not upset about what would be a 40 percent increase in taxes for most California taxpayers," Goldsmith said on the program.
Goldsmith disputes the argument the tax increase would only be felt by the wealthy.
"The truth is 58 percent of all California taxpayers making over $75,000 a year are itemizing their tax returns. This is not the super wealthy. This is a huge tax increase coming from the Republicans."
The issue may pose a problem for the state's 14 Republican House members who will could face pressure to support a federal tax reform plan from the White House that may also increase the tax burden on constituents.
Asked about the position held on the issue by Orange County's four GOP House members, Whitaker, the county's party chairman said he didn't know. But he added that federal tax reform is "absolutely required."