Gov. Newsom’s Party Affiliation Won’t Appear on the Recall Ballot

A clerical mistake became a losing battle for California’s governor

UPDATE: JULY 13, 2021— A judge decided Monday that a pesky clerical error will prevent Governor Gavin Newsom from being identified as a Democrat on the ballot to recall him.

After his team neglected to submit a necessary form on time, Newsom sued his own Secretory of State appointee, Shirley Weber, arguing that the omission would deprive voters of essential info about a candidate. His opponents in the recall argued that Newsom was attempting to bend the rules to suit his needs.

The kicker is that Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles said his decision came down to a law signed by Newsom himself, which required him to submit his party affiliation by the February deadline. Arguelles said the law “unambiguously precludes party information from appearing on a recall ballot where the elected officer fails timely to make the designation.”

Does it really matter if the state’s well-known Democratic governor does or doesn’t have a “D” next to his name? Probably not. As Democratic consultant Garry South told the Sacramento Bee, “If you’re a registered voter in California and you’re primed to vote in the recall and you don’t know Gavin Newsom is a Democrat, you’re living on another planet.”

The recall election is set for September 14.

JUNE 30, 2021— Governor Gavin Newsom is doing everything he can to ensure he rides his late-pandemic popularity surge to victory in the recall election, but a paperwork snafu may keep him from being listed as a Democrat on the ballots, so he’s dragging his handpicked Secretary of State into court to correct his mistake.

On Monday, Newsom sued Secretary of State Shirley Weber—who he appointed to replace Alex Padilla, making her the first Black woman to hold the position—because his lawyer forgot to file a notice of party preference with Weber when he filed an answer to the recall petition in February 2020. The oversight would prevent “Democratic Party” from appearing next to Newsom’s name.

As Courthouse News reports, the Governor’s legal team only realized their “good faith mistake” in recent weeks and asked Weber to cut them some slack, but their fellow Dem shut them down.

“Weber, however, declined to accept the notice, necessitating this action,” the complaint reads.

The suit contends that Weber’s refusal to forgive Newsom’s bungling will keep him from taking advantage of an election law he signed less than two years ago that was intended to give voters more information about candidates.

“The voters would be deprived of the very information the Legislature has deemed important for them to receive, all because the governor’s counsel inadvertently failed to file a form about the governor’s ballot designation at least 16 months before the recall election has been called,” the lawsuit states.

Though Newsom admits the clerical clumsiness was all on his side of the desk, he says Weber can still forgive it since she hasn’t officially certified the recall and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis has not yet set an election date.

If Newsom wins this battle, it will further ease his recall chances, as state legislators passed a bill Tuesday which would allow the recall to be held 30 days earlier than is currently permitted by law. That bill is now heading to Newsom’s desk, despite the fact that elections officials warned that they are not prepared to hold the election much earlier than was already planned.

The emergency petition claims that voters will be done an injustice if Newsom doesn’t get his way, stating, “Petitioner’s statutory rights, and the right of California voters to be accurately and fully informed about the recall election, will be irreparably injured if real party Weber is not ordered to accept Newsom’s party preference election.”

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