A California judge on Monday denied Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request to have his party affiliation listed on the state’s upcoming recall election ballot.
Newsom had sued his own secretary of state last month to be listed as a Democrat on the ballot following what he called a filing “mistake” by his election attorney last year. The California Democrat was supposed to mark his party affiliation in February 2020 pursuant to the state’s recall election law, but “due to an inadvertent but good faith mistake on the part of his election attorney, Newsom timely filed his answer but did not include his party-preference election,” the lawsuit said.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge James Arguelles wrote in his ruling Monday that the “circumstances do not justify excuse from the deadline.”
It is clear, he wrote, “from both the text and the legislative history that SB 151 does not consider information about an elected officer’s party affiliation so vital to voters that it must be included on the ballot.”
The ruling brings a new wrinkle to Newsom’s efforts to stay in office as he faces the second election in state history to recall a sitting governor. State officials confirmed last month that a recall election would proceed after just 43 people withdrew their signatures from petitions to recall the governor during a 30-day window required by state law. The recall election is scheduled for September 14.
The recall drive has been fueled by anger over the restrictions Newsom put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 throughout last year and during an alarming surge in cases in California during the winter holiday months.
Critics of Newsom had met the state’s threshold for a recall election in April following a sprawling effort to gather signatures in every county that was backed by key Republican strategists. But Newsom and his team have framed the recall as an effort by supporters of former President Donald Trump and right-wing extremists to wrest control of the government from progressives.
“It is what it is. This is a Republican recall,” Newsom said in an exclusive interview with CNN earlier this year. “An RNC-backed Republican recall of White supremacists, anti-Semites and people who are opposed to immigration and immigrants is an accurate assessment of who’s behind this recall.”
Elected officials subject to recall elections in California historically had not been authorized to include their political party preferences until Newsom signed a law in 2019 that enabled them to do so.
In September, the state’s voters will be asked two questions on the recall ballot. First, do they want to vote “yes” or “no” on recalling Newsom, who was elected in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote.
The second question is which candidate they would like to replace Newsom. Voters will choose from what is likely to be a very long list of names. By law, Newsom is not permitted to add his name to the ballot as an option.