As I reported in a story in today's Star, an independent group called the California Taxpayer Protection Committee has launched a television ad assailing Democratic 19th Senate District candidate Hannah-Beth Jackson as "a politician willing to tax just about anything."
Before writing the story, I attempted over two days to contact the group's treasurer, Tom Hudson, but he was unable to return my call before deadline. Hudson called me back today. I asked him why the decision was made to go on the air so early -- more than two months before the election.
His answer: The state budget stalemate has focused public attention on Democratic proposals to raise taxes as part of a budget-balancing solution. "There has been a heightened level of scrutiny about the tax-increase issue," he said.
The ad underscores the political difficulty the state budget issue presents to Democratic candidates around the state. Although polls consistently show that most California voters tend to side with Democratic positions on school spending, environmental protection, healthcare and other state spending issues, those same polls show that voters want all those things but don't believe taxes should be raised to pay for them. That creates a political opportunity for Republicans, who are able to stand fast against tax increases without laying out the spending cuts for education, healthcare and other state programs that would be needed to balance the budget without additional revenue.
Hudson is chairman of the Placer County Republican Central Committee, a group that generated some controversy this spring when it issued a pre-primary endorsement of Ventura County state Sen. Tom McClintock in his campaign for Congress in Northern California. Hudson and the Taxpayer Protection Committee chairman Mike Spence have been friends with Jackson's opponent, Republican Tony Strickland since their years as members of the California College Republicans.