July 13 (UPI) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s party affiliation will not appear on the ballot in September’s recall election, a judge ruled Monday.
Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled that Newsom will be not be listed as a Democrat in the election to determine whether he will be removed from office and replaced with a challenger after his attorneys failed to mark the option in their response to the recall petition.
Arguelles ruled the secretary of state’s office does not have a responsibility to fix the attorneys’ mistake and that a 2019 state elections law stating that “including an elected officer’s party preference on a recall balot facilitates informed voter decision making” does not require candidates to identify a party affiliation.
“It is clear from both the text and the legislative history that SB 151 does not consider information about an elected official’s party affiliation so vital to voters that it must be included on the ballot,” wrote Arguelles.
Newsom’s attorneys failed to designate his party preference when responding to the recall petition in February 2020 and did not realize the error until June 2021.
“The court credits assertions that Governor Newsom and his counsel inadvertently neglected the deadline, but inadvertence is not the same as reliance on official advice,” Arguelles wrote.
They then filed a request with Secretary of State Shirley Weber to accept the designation after the deadline but Weber refused, prompting the lawsuit.
“The secretary of state agrees that it would be unfortunate if an error by the governor’s attorney had the effect of depriving voters of accurate information on the ballot regarding Gov. Newsom’s party preference,” Weber said. “If the governor’s choice had been submitted by the statutory deadline, the secretary of state would have had a ministerial duty to accept it, and the statute would require that his party preference appear on the ballot.”
Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis earlier this month set a date of Sept. 14 for the recall election where Newsom will face challenges from candidates including former Olympic gold-medalist Caitlyn Jenner and former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, R-Calif.