OpEd: Major Williams Is Not a Serious Candidate for Governor

Posted on April 5, 2021 9:09 am

Special From Philip Mauriello Jr.

Throughout my hobby of following California politics, one candidate has repeatedly had his name brought up in social media circles. On the social media pages of Kevin Faulconer and John Cox, you see supporters replying, “Major Williams 2022!” or #itstimetothinkmajor.

The candidate they are referring to is the Republican grassroots candidate, Major Williams. Mr. Williams has done an incredible job of growing a grassroots campaign mostly through social media. At the time of this writing, Mr. Williams currently has 180,000 followers on Instagram, which is where most of his outreach is done.

It is certainly a feat to grow such a big following on social media. It dwarfs former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer at 14,200 followers and John Cox at a measly 8,100. The last post John Cox had on his Instagram was a picture from Thanksgiving). Even Kevin Kiley has about 27,000 followers.

The point is, however, not to measure up who has the most social media clout, but to first point out the incredible job Mr. Williams has done in creating a loyal and passionate following. Mr. Williams embraces this persona of being a grassroots candidate and constantly positions himself as the “outsider.” The candidate the establishment California GOP does not want or will not support.

In his videos, he appears charismatic, passionate, and empathetic to those he meets with. However, those qualities can only take you so far in running to become the Governor of one the country’s largest states. His lack of political acumen or business management is troublesome because it does not give us any indication of what type of leader Mr. Williams will be.

I had been cautious about Mr. Williams. I urge listeners to always do their homework on every candidate running for Governor. This is an incredibly important election for plenty of reasons.

Whether it be by recall or general election, California is starving for new leadership. People across the political spectrum came out to sign the recall against Governor Newsom. He is weak, and his brand of leadership has been rejected by millions of citizens. This is a crucial opening in California politics. It is important you support the right candidate for the job.

Recently though, my suspicions had all been confirmed when Mr. Williams appeared on the John Solomon podcast to discuss his candidacy. Most of it sounded straight forward until Mr. Williams proposed that he would eliminate state taxes and replace the revenue by implementing a “tourist tax.”

“We get over 279 million tourists a year, even if we lose 20 percent of them, because they don’t want to pay an extra 10-20 percent tourist tax, that’s still more revenue than the tax if we eliminate it for the state tax, which would be an incentive to small businesses to thrive or even to be created. That means more jobs, that means more funds towards our economy.”

California tax revenue projected for 2020-2021 will be $152 billion. Mr. Williams did not lay out the specifics of how we get to that number just by a tourist tax alone. Further, does Mr. Williams mean all state taxes? State income tax? Corporate tax? Gas tax? Sales tax? All of it? Those questions must be answered if we are to determine whether this plan is plausible or not.

Putting aside the specific numbers, does Mr. Williams propose we tax all out of state tourists? What about Californians who travel within the state to touristy areas? Are they also not tourists? How does one determine who is a tourist, let alone an out of state or in state tourist?

Taxing out of state citizens differently than in state citizens creates a constitutional problem under the Privileges and Immunities Clause which provides; “The citizen of each State shall be entitled to all the Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in several states.”

The Supreme Court has previously prohibited states from imposing higher taxes on nonresidents than it imposes on residents. Not to mention this raises other constitutional concerns under both the Equal Protection Clause and the Commerce Clause.

Since this policy cannot be enacted as presented constitutionally, what Mr. Williams would have to do is raise taxes on hospitality businesses. Since this is where “tourists” will spend their money, you would have to target businesses and apply a 20 percent tax on them.

After the losses suffered under Covid lockdowns, I cannot imagine many hospitality businesses would sign up for a 20 percent on their guests. Especially when there are other options such as Florida for tourists to vacation at.

It may seem like nit picking, but this policy is indicative of several issues with Mr. Williams’ campaign that lead me to believe he is not a serious candidate for Governor.

The fact that this proposal was unveiled or discussed on the podcast of a reputable journalist such as John Solomon, without thoroughly vetting it, is problematic for his campaign. Most campaigns have someone who is helping advise the candidate on legislative issues. They would help them craft the right legislation that makes sense within the current framework of laws and government.

This proposal indicates to me, Mr. Williams does not have someone who is advising him on legislative issues, which is crucial when running for Governor. If he did, they would have immediately saw the flaw in taxing out of state citizens and told him to rework the proposal. They would have also informed him that the Governor does not unilaterally pass tax legislation, our legislature does, and with a Democratic super majority in the legislature, it would be unlikely they would vote to remove all state taxes in exchange for a “tourist tax.”

What Mr. Williams does have is a team that helps with his social media (and it shows) as well as a team that helps sell merchandise. However, when running for office you need a team of people who can help the candidate craft his platform and get that message out effectively. For serious candidates, major tax proposals cannot be rolled out without some input as to whether the proposal makes sense or not.

Serious candidates get a pulse on what the people want by conducting strategic polls to figure out the issues. Mr. Williams pushes that he is pro Second Amendment, which is fine, but to parents who are struggling with the rising cost of living and finding a school that is open to send their children is more important than the Second Amendment. Based on his tourist tax proposal, it appears the Second Amendment may be about as far as Mr. Williams read of the Constitution.

All that said, Mr. Williams has plenty of talents. I have suggested that he run for State Assembly or State Senate. We could afford to flip more seats in the legislature. As I have said before, he is a charismatic and likeable persona. He is very skilled at growing a following. But I do not think Governor is the right position for him at this moment.

As we inch closer and closer to either a recall or a general election for Governor, it is important we determine who is the right candidate to help usher in a new path for California. Every candidate needs to be vetted thoroughly and questioned on everything. It is our chance to put a candidate forward who could possibly change the trajectory of this state.

Thus, it is hard for me to believe that with the proposals such as the “tourist tax” that he has put forth, Mr. Williams is a serious candidate for Governor of California, and the sooner Republicans realize that the sooner they can begin to vet another viable option.

Philip Mauriello Jr. is the Managing Attorney of Arete Law A.P.C. and host of the California Underground Podcast.

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Chris Aceto
Chris Aceto
1 month ago

He got the idea from the Patrick Bet David podcast. This is from the podcast that I got the info”Florida imposed a tourist tax”
You can watch the clip of the segment here https://youtu.be/_cJVjS-5AFs

What Major Williams needs is policy advisors from the Hoover Institution like Lee Ohanian who is an economist there and UCLA who can give thorough insight about monetary policy and more people like that etc

2 months ago

Appreciated this. We need to know all about a candidate before jumping on a bandwagon.