California Gov. Gavin Newsom will not be identified as a Democrat on ballots given to voters in the Sept. 14 recall election, a judge ruled Monday.
Newsom had sued his handpicked secretary of state, Shirley Weber, last month in a bid to get his party affiliation included after his campaign failed to file the appropriate paperwork. Newsom’s campaign had initially asked Weber to allow the affiliation to appear, but she refused, saying the matter would have to be settled in court.
The governor was supposed to indicate whether he wanted his party preference on the ballot back in February 2020, when he first responded to the recall petition. That requirement was part of a new law Newsom himself signed that took effect in January 2020. Previously, California politicians targeted in recalls weren’t permitted to include their party affiliation on the ballot.
Newsom’s legal team argued in an hour-long hearing Friday that his election attorney had merely missed an arbitrary, harmless filing deadline and that voters had an overriding interest in knowing the governor’s party affiliation.
But Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles didn’t buy it, ruling that the law signed by Newsom in January of last year did not mandate that party affiliation be placed on recall ballots. He also ruled that Weber did not have the discretion to make “good faith” exceptions to missing the deadline.
“Circumstances do not justify excuse from the deadline,” Arguelles wrote in an 11-page ruling.
Despite the unforced error, Newsom is still favored to survive the recall effort, which picked up steam over the governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his flouting of his own shutdown orders.
The recall ballot will consist of two questions. First, voters will be asked if they want Newsom removed from office. The second question asks who should replace the governor, and answers will only be counted if more than 50 percent say yes to the first.
Republicans attempting to unseat Newsom include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman and 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox, former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose and reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner.
With Post wires