A California state judge ruled Monday that Gov. Gavin Newsom cannot identify himself as a Democrat on the September recall ballot, saying he failed to meet the deadline to designate his party affiliation.
Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles said that the Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber’s office cannot fix what attorneys for Mr. Newsom described as an oversight in their February 2020 response to the recall petition, calling state law “unambiguous.”
“It is clear from both the text and the legislative history that SB 151 does not consider information about an elected officer’s party affiliation so vital voters that it must be included on the ballot,” Judge Arguelles said in his decision.
Mr. Newsom had sought to add his party affiliation to the Sept. 14 ballot in the overwhelmingly Democratic state as he seeks to beat back challenges from a crowded field that includes Republicans John Cox, Kevin Faulconer and Caitlyn Jenner.
“Californians see this partisan recall for what it is — a Republican powergrab, and across the state you see Democrats united behind Governor Newsom. Governor Newsom will defeat this Republican recall,” the Newsom campaign told the Associated Press.
Eric Early, attorney for the California Patriot Coalition, which spearheaded the recall campaign, had argued that Mr. Newsom should not be able to add the “D” beside his name.
“No one is above the law, and this ruling makes clear, that includes Gavin Newsom,” said Mr. Early in a statement on the Recall Gavin Newsom website. “His terrible judgment, arbitrary and capricious laws, rules and orders have destroyed tens of thousands of small businesses, hundreds of thousands of jobs and countless jobs. It is time that he be made to follow his own laws.”
Judge Arguelles pointed out that Mr. Newsom himself signed the change to the recall rules in October 2019.
“The court credits assertions that Governor Newsom and his counsel inadvertently neglected the deadline, but inadvertence is not the same as reliance on official advice,” said the judge in his 11-page ruling. “Circumstances do not justify excuse from the deadline.”
Recall organizers submitted more than 1.7 million valid signatures in March, well above the 1.49 million needed to trigger the special election.
• This article was based in part on wire-service reports.