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One of six does not constitute ‘most’

Conventional wisdom is like urban myth: the less you challenge it, the more it becomes truth.

Before it becomes a truism that all Republicans who dare to vote for taxes suffer humliating defeats, let us examine a case made by conservative blogger Jon Fleischman.

Thursday at a conference of anti-tax advocates, Fleischman asserted that “most” of the six GOP lawmakers who voted in favor of a tax hike in 2009 “suffered embarrassing defeats in pursuit of higher office.”

The implication being that Republicans who vote for tax hikes will face an unforgiving GOP electorate that will cast them to political purgatory if they hazard to breach the party’s most sacred principle.

It may have been a case of Fleischman wishing what he thought must be true, or of plain revisionist history.

Either way, he’s wrong. Of the six, two, former Sen. Abel Maldonado and former Senate GOP Leader Dave Cogdill, both reached office after their tax votes.

Cogdill was elected as Stanislaus County Assessor. And Maldonado was appointed as Lieutenant governor — with the full support of Republican lawmakers in both chambers in confirming his appointment.

Maldonado also went on to capture the Republican nomination for the job, blowing out his closest GOP rival, Sam Aanestad, by 13 points, before losing in the general election to Democrat Gavin Newsom.

So much for Republican retribution.

Former Assembly GOP Leader Mike Villnes barely squeaked through in a close Republican primary race for Insurance Commissioner — over a no-name Republican Brian FitzGerald. But he did win, before being defeated in the general election by a Democrat — as did all Republicans on the statewide ticket. Maybe it could be seen as humiliating that his primary win was so narrow, but he did not suffer an embarrassing loss.

As for the others: former Assembly member Anthony Adams did not gain office again because he did not seek it. He may have felt it wasn’t worth it to face the wrath of an angry GOP primary electorate, but he did not suffer an embarrassing defeat.

Former Sen. Roy Ashburn was term-limited, and later appointed by Schwarzenegger to the unemployment insurance appeals board. He did not run for office, and so could not have suffered an embarrassing defeat. Unless you count not running as humiliating.

That leaves term-limited Assemblyman Roger Niello, who lost in a Senate primary to Ted Gaines. He actually finished third in a top-two primary, behind a Democrat. That can go down as embarrassing.

One out of six, though, does not constitute “most.”

Steven Harmon