He's a little-known and under-funded Republican running for governor in a heavily Democratic state. Moreover, Huntington Beach Assemblyman Travis Allen backs President Trump, opposes legalized marijuana and draws a hard-line on immigration, views that are at odds with much of California's electorate.
But Allen sees a path to victory in next year's election, and it starts with his drive to repeal the new gas tax.
“The public is outraged,” Allen said on the “Inside with Rick Reiff” public affairs program. “Californians across the state, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, income level, they all oppose the gas tax,” Allen said, citing a June poll by UC Berkeley that found 58% opposition among Californians.
The tax hike, passed with a two-thirds majority of the Democratic-controlled state legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, will raise an estimated $52 billion to repair roads and fund related projects. On Nov. 1 pump prices increase by 12 cents a gallon for gasoline and 20 cents for diesel; annual vehicle registration fees increase anywhere from $25 to $175.
Allen said there's no question transportation funds are needed – “we have the second-worst roads and the worst traffic” in the country. But he said the state has “plenty of money” to fix roads if it stops diverting gas tax revenue to the general fund and such “pet projects” as the bullet train. He also called for streamlining Caltrans, the transportation agency that has 3,500 positions too many, according to the state Legislative Analyst's Office.
Allen said some 50,000 people have volunteered to help gather the nearly 366,000 signatures needed to qualify the tax repeal for the November 2018 ballot, and he is also collecting donations for paid signature gatherers.
More immediately, Allen has a Sept. 22 court date in his bid to rewrite the ballot measure. Allen said the title should be very simple, “something like four words, 'repeal the gas tax.'” As written by Secretary of State Xavier Beccera, the ballot and signature petitions would instead say the measure “eliminates recently enacted road repair and transportation funding.”
Allen called that wording “clearly misleading” and predicted “we're going to win” the legal challenge.
Despite the long odds against him, Allen predicted he will win the governorship by appealing to “blue-collar Democrats and Reagan Democrats and just common-sense people.”
Allen, a certified financial planner, said he decided to get into politics because he saw that California's regulations and taxes were driving out people and jobs:
“I realized that my parents had left the state, my brother had left the state, my best friend moved to Texas, he doubled the size of his house, doubled the size of his business and he didn't pay any income tax. ... And I noticed all my clients I managed money for, they started in California but then they left.”
Allen, an avid surfer, continued, “ I thought, I can't go to Texas, the waves are just too good here. But if I'm gonna stay here, I'm gonna do something about it.”
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