Monday, April 3, 2023








        It’s almost like watching a political party commit suicide. Whatever the situation, this state’s Republican Party seems to deploy responses sure to alienate the vast majority of California voters.


        Make no mistake: Right now, that vast majority wants little to do with candidates sporting an R after their names in ballot listings.


        It’s true the GOP picked up one congressional seat here last year, but it’s also true that in off-year, mid-term elections like that one, the “out” party usually gains far more than 2 per cent in clout, about the percentage of one House seat in California’s 52-member delegation.


        As March ended, state Republicans were at it again.

Just after Gov. Gavin Newsom got the Legislature to OK his plan empowering a new wing of the state Energy Commission to police gasoline prices and penalize oil refiners when they profiteer beyond reasonable levels, the GOP did what it could to turn off most Californians.


        Remember, Newsom’s new price-regulating office is designed to keep prices down. It is forbidden from assessing any penalties that could cause price increases.


So how did California Republicans headline their statement about it, just after the plan passed on an almost pure party-line vote?


        “Newsom, Sacramento Dems Back Higher Gas Prices,” it said. Say what?


        For sheer inaccuracy, that title, contradicting the stated purpose of the new office and assuming it will stray beyond its legal bounds, matched the state GOP’s statement after new legislative and congressional district lines were unveiled in late 2021.


        “It’s going to be tough running in 2022 with a D behind your name,” the GOP predicted then. “Voters are fed up with California Democrats…”


        So fed up they reelected every incumbent Democrat running for Congress and gave Democrats some of their biggest supermajorities ever in the Legislature, rendering the GOP virtually irrelevant in state government despite its loud and happy talk.


        Newsom’s response to the never-fully-explained gasoline price hikes of February 2022 and beyond passed the state Senate on a 30-8 vote and the Assembly by 52-19.


        It marks the first time any state has tried seriously to keep track of oil company economics and determine whether price increases are justifiable. It also follows at least nine episodes of large and seemingly price-gouging gas price hikes over the last 40 years.


        And it follows more than half a billion dollars worth of insider stock sales by refining company executives and directors that followed closely after quarterly financial statements sent oil company stocks booming last spring.


        The plan does not set a cap on gasoline prices, meaning oil companies can still raise prices when justified. Before assessing penalties and setting price limits, the new regulators will have to formally find that benefits of such actions outweigh possible costs to consumers and that no move they make will spur price increases.


        How does the GOP respond to those protections? “California Democrats are looking for new ways to tax hardworking Californians who are already struggling under the weight of our state’s sky-high prices…Ultimately, greedy Gavin Newsom and California Democrats have…plans to collect (more money) from gas consumers.”


        There is simply no evidence for that statement from party chair Jessica Millan Patterson, just as there was nothing to back her post-election statement last fall that “Our candidates (did) better than they have in years.”


        The reality is that the state GOP can blather on like this as much as it likes, but it will have no influence so long as its registered voter totals run between 25 percent and 30 percent of all voters, with the vast majority signing up either as Democrats (currently about 47 percent) or with no party preference.


        The state GOP could change things by moderating its stances on major social issues like abortion rights and gun controls.


        But the minority of Californians signed up with the GOP won’t tolerate easing stances on issues like those. Which means the GOP will keep on making statements like its baseless one on the new gas price regulators, and will also continue having zero influence on any policy decisions.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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