Carl DeMaio with petitions
Carl DeMaio with boxes of signed petitions outside the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. Image from DeMaio’s Twitter feed

Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox — the Republican candidate for governor — is hailing news that a ballot measure to repeal the gas tax qualified Monday for the November ballot.

“This is a message to the millions of forgotten Californians ignored by the Sacramento political elite — help is on the way,” Cox said in a statement.

”Let this also be a message to every special interest in Sacramento — we’re coming for you. You can outspend the people, but you can’t outvote the people, because there are more of us than there are of you.”

Cox is an honorary chairman* in the effort to repeal Senate Bill 1, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed last year in hopes of raising more than $5 billion annually for road repairs and mass transit projects.

Brown shot back with his own statement: “This flawed and dangerous measure pushed by Trump’s Washington allies jeopardizes the safety of millions of Californians by stopping local communities from fixing their crumbling roads and bridges. Just say no.”

The measure qualified for the Nov. 6 ballot by securing more than the needed 585,407 signatures of registered voters, state officials said.

The Los Angeles Times quoted Democratic strategist Darry Sragow as saying: “What [Brown] is fighting for is his legacy, and so I think he would have every reason in the world to put a lot of emphasis on keeping the gas tax in place.”

The paper said Brown has at least $14.8 million in his campaign account available to fight repeal.

It also quoted Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: “If you want to pay for more popped tires, realigned axels, you want to see our roads continue to deteriorate, go ahead and repeal SB 1. But we all know like with our houses, if we don’t fix the leak we are going to be paying a lot more in the future.”

But KOGO radio host Carl DeMaio, the former San Diego councilman, said he was thrilled by the news.

“This is a huge win for the tens of thousands dedicated and organized grassroots volunteers who helped collect signatures,” said DeMaio, chairman of Reform California and a leader of the repeal campaign.

DeMaio predicted voters would repeal SB1 in November.

“The gas and car tax hikes will cost the typical family of four $700 more per year in higher taxes, but the roads will not get fixed because the politicians will continue to divert the funds as they always have in the past,” DeMaio said.

He said the next step would be the Secretary of State’s Office assigning a ballot proposition number and issuing a title and summary for the measure to appear in the official state voter guide this fall.

“Sacramento politicians have been using dirty tricks to thwart the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative campaign and we are prepared to mount a legal challenge on any false and misleading Title and Summary that is issued,” DeMaio said.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly called Cox the chairman of the effort.