California’s Sonoma County Republican Party, led by RLC activists Michael Erickson and Matthew Heath, voted to censure Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in response to his decision to terminate his own ‘No New Taxes’ Pledge. In 2003, Schwarzenegger ran on a platform of cutting taxes. Among his reversed positions:
• Schwarzenegger issued a statement on November 6 that he intended to increase the state sales tax by 1.5 percent — a whopping 20 percent increase in the state-mandated portion of the tax — and expand its applicability to previously immune transactions (ranging from automobile and appliance repairs to veterinarian services); and
• Of particular note for those living in California’s wine country, Schwarzenegger proposed an extravagant new excise tax on beer, wine, and spirits, adding an additional 25 cents a bottle to the existing 20 cents a gallon excise for wine.
In response, the Sonoma County GOP issued a press release expressing the members’ wishes for a censure of Governor Schwarzenegger. On the cutting edge of politics in California, the Sonoma County GOP inspired their allies in the Placer County GOP to follow suit with both a resolution and press release in opposition to the any sales tax increase.
In these releases, the county Republican Parties called attention to the fact that the California Republican Party had remained sadly and impotently silent. As a result of the actions by RLC members, the California Republican Party went on the record as being opposed to the sales tax increase proposal. It should be noted at this time that, excepting a few, the Republican Caucuses in the State Senate and Assembly also remained firmly against the proposal, and it was defeated in the end.
“The primary reason we issued the release was … to prod the California Republican Party into action,” according to Sonoma GOP Chair Michael Erickson. In that purpose, we succeeded; and the example is set that when activists organize and clamor loudly enough, the leadership has the capacity to do what is right.
Concluded Erickson, “The best service that the RLC, or any other organization committed to freedom, may provide in these most trying days of billion dollar bailouts and neoconservative adventurism abroad is to recruit, to organize, and then to win. Period. Anything other than those tasks is an avoidance of vigilance and not worthy of free persons.”
Michael Erickson is an attorney, a former officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, and a former Reserve Chaplain in the California Army National Guard. He is a former Executive Committee member of the California Republican Party.