SACRAMENTO — Those of us who follow elections know that “politics ain’t beanbag.” That was the saying from the fictional Mr. Dooley, an Irish-accented character created by newspaper columnist Finley Peter Dunne in the late 19th century. In other words, politics is a rough-and-tumble process. Those who play that game better be tougher than those who play children’s games.
But even such tough pastimes need to have some ground rules. Candidates and activists who behave disreputably — or cheat at the game — ought to have their bad behavior exposed. We can always hope that voters, in their collective wisdom, will punish those politicians who put their raw pursuit of power over standards of common decency.
Voters in north Orange County, and parts of nearby Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, may soon have a chance to express their feelings at the way the California Democratic Party and its allies are defending Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton from a burgeoning recall election. Their latest tactics really have crossed the line, however.
Newman is a freshman Democrat who won a seat last November in a district that still is heavily Republican. He vowed to be a voice of independence — but joined the majority in backing a controversial bill that raises gasoline and diesel fuel taxes, and boosts the vehicle-license fee. It passed by one vote, so Newman’s vote was indeed a deciding vote for something that will cost many California families hundreds of dollars a year.
That’s politics. Newman gave Democrats a supermajority, which makes it easy for them to ram through unpopular tax increases. So California Republicans, led by former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, have targeted Newman in a recall. They want to bounce him from office as a punishment for his vote and pressure legislators into possibly rolling back these increases. That’s politics, too.
Thanks to the state’s progressive history, California has a freewheeling form of direct democracy…