- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A judge upheld a challenge from Democrats on Thursday, stopping a former Republican strategist running for secretary of state from appearing on ballots as a political reform advocate.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ordered that ballot materials instead call Dan Schnur a political involvement educator.

Schnur is campaigning as an independent for the office overseeing elections and voter registration.

Schnur called the legal challenge politically motivated and said he is content with the new description ordered by the judge.

“I believe that politics is too important to be left to the politicians: the words ‘political involvement educator’ strongly reinforce the concept of citizen and voter participation,” he said in a statement.

California Democratic Party Vice Chairman Eric Bauman filed the challenge, saying in court documents the reform advocate description was a “disingenuous attempt to mislead the voters.”

Bauman said in a news release that the judge’s order put “an end to Mr. Schnur’s latest attempt to deceive voters and try to separate himself from his history as a GOP career spokesperson.”

Schnur has worked for Gov. Pete Wilson and on John McCain’s 2000 run for president. He switched his party affiliation to independent in 2011.

Schnur is now a University of Southern California professor of politics and previously chaired the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, an elections watchdog.

Other candidates for secretary of state include Democrats Derek Cressman and State Sen. Alex Padilla, and Republican Pete Peterson. The field narrowed Thursday when Democratic Sen. Leland Yee withdrew from the race a day after his arrest on federal corruption charges.

The two candidates who receive the most votes in the June primary advance to the November general election regardless of political party under the state’s top-two primary system.

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