SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Gov. Gavin Newsom is suing his own appointed secretary of state to make sure his party affiliation gets on the recall ballot.
Three words are at the center of the lawsuit between the governor and Secretary of State Shirley Weber: Party Preference: Democratic.
They are the words Newsom is fighting to have either below or next to his name on the recall ballot, something the state’s top elections official said she won’t do without a court order.
Newsom’s legal team is asking for a Sacramento County judge to take immediate action by July 12.
When Newsom first responded to the recall petition against him in February of 2020, he was required to say whether he wanted his party preference on the ballot.
That’s part of a state law he signed in 2019, allowing targets of a recall to have their party preference next to their names to provide voters with the information.
“It seems to me to be sort of common sense to allow the governor to indicate he’s a Democrat,” said Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, who wrote the law.
“I suppose there was going to be litigation no matter what,” the senator continued. “If the secretary of state had allowed the governor to indicate that he was a Democrat, then the opponents, or the proponents of the recall, would sue. Otherwise, the governor is now going to court to make sure that’s clarified.”
In the petition filed Monday, Newsom’s lawyer wrote, “Due to an inadvertent but good faith mistake on the part of his elections attorney, Newsom timely filed his answer but did not include his party-preference.”
He argued Weber should accept his party preference because the recall has yet to be certified and an election date has yet to be announced. Newsom’s opponents also have yet to file their own official paperwork to get on the ballot.
In a statement Tuesday, the secretary of state’s office wrote, “The Secretary of State’s office has a ministerial duty to accept timely filed documents. Acceptance of filings beyond a deadline requires judicial resolution.”
A hearing date on this has not yet been set, but by asking for action by July 12, that could suggest team Newsom doesn’t expect the recall date to be announced before then.