In a potentially noteworthy blow to the political fortunes of California’s embattled Democrat governor, a judge ruled on Monday that Gavin Newsom cannot include his party affiliation on the ballot that will be used in the September recall election set to decide the fate of his administration, according to the Associated Press.
The issue arose when it was discovered that Newsom’s campaign inadvertently failed to submit his party designation to state Secretary of State Shirley Weber by the designated deadline and requested that it be allowed to appear anyhow.
Weber, in turn, said she did not have the authority to decide the matter and that it would need to be heard in court. Ultimately, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles found that the law at issue – which had been approved by Newsom himself – “unambiguously precludes party information from appearing on a recall ballot where the elected officer fails timely to make the designation.”
As the Sacramento Bee further noted, Judge Arguelles held that “It is clear from both the text and the legislative history that [the law in question] does not consider information about an elected officer’s party affiliation so vital to voters that it must be included on the ballot” and that the secretary of state bears no duty to remedy an error made by Newsom’s own lawyers.
It remains unknown whether the lack of party affiliation next to Newsom’s name on the ballot will make any significant difference in the outcome of the recall effort, particularly given that he has already served in a number of major statewide offices and enjoys substantial name and party recognition already, as the AP noted.
The Sacramento Bee quoted well-known California Democrat consultant Garry South as saying that while it was a regrettable error on the part of Newsom’s attorneys to not file needed paperwork in a timely fashion, it probably will not matter much in the end.
“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,” he explained.
According to Politico, Newsom currently holds a lead on Republican candidates both in polling as well as fundraising, though turnout remains a critical factor that could tip the scales in the GOP’s favor. As such, ensuring that the Democratic base is well-informed and ready to cast their ballots has been a top priority for the governor.
With a large field of Republican hopefuls assembled that includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, conservative commentator Larry Elder, reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, and former Congressman Doug Ose, it remains to be seen whether Californians in sufficient numbers will vote to retain Newsom, whose hypocrisy and dictatorial edicts during the pandemic are largely responsible for his current struggles.