California AG Files Emergency Request to Remove GOP Candidate From Ballot

California AG Files Emergency Request to Remove GOP Candidate From Ballot

California State Assemblyman Vince Fong, vice chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, asks questions during a meeting in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 23, 2024. (Travis Gillmore/The Epoch Times)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

1/25/2024

Updated: 1/29/2024

In an effort to remove a Republican congressional candidate from the ballot, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an emergency request Jan. 22 asking the Third District Court of Appeal to reverse a lower court’s ruling allowing the candidate to run for two offices at the same time.
In early December, Bakersfield conservative Vince Fong announced his entry into the race to replace retired U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). The Former Speaker of the House announced Dec. 6 he was leaving Congress, after he was ousted from his leadership role and before his term expired. He has endorsed Mr. Fong.
A special election is set for March 19 to replace Mr. McCarthy, a few days after the state’s presidential primary election on March 5 where Mr. Fong is also on the ballot for reelection to his current state Assembly seat.
California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who oversees the state’s elections, immediately sought to remove Mr. Fong from the congressional election ballot, claiming state law prohibited a candidate from running for both offices at the same time.
Mr. Fong sued the secretary of state in December for removing his name, taking the matter to the state Superior Court in Sacramento.
Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled in Mr. Fong’s favor in December, finding that the state statute argued by Ms. Weber, was “inapplicable to Fong and cannot be used as a reason to preclude him” running for Congress, even though it may result in “voter confusion” and “disenfranchisement” of voters if he is elected to both offices.
Ms. Weber, a Democrat, said she “strongly disagreed” with the court’s ruling and was concerned about the consequences in a press release from December.
“As California’s chief election official, it is my duty to take steps necessary to protect voters,” she said in the release.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an appeal of the judge’s decision on behalf of the state Jan. 22, asking the appeals court to direct the California Superior Court in Sacramento to vacate its December ruling that allows Mr. Fong to run for both offices.
He additionally asked for a ruling from the higher court by April 12, the last day for the secretary of state to certify the March 5 primary election results.
According to the filing, the state introduced case evidence not presented during the Superior Court hearing that backs up Ms. Weber’s claim that a candidate can’t run for two offices at the same time.
“The trial court’s [voter disenfranchisement and confusion] concerns are well-founded and require this Court’s immediate correction,” Mr. Bonta wrote in the appeals court request.
Mr. Fong did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during a press conference unveiling the results of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) investigation into the biolab discovered in Reedley, Calif., in Washington on Nov. 15, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during a press conference unveiling the results of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) investigation into the biolab discovered in Reedley, Calif., in Washington on Nov. 15, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Other Republican candidates who have filed to run for the congressional seat are Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux; Stan Ellis, a farmer and businessman; small-business owner David Giglio; California City Mayor Kelly Kulikoff; and small-business owner Matthew Stoll.
Democratic Party candidates running for the seat are private security guard Andy Morales and teacher Marisa Wood.
Independent candidates in the race are scientist Ben Dewell and businessman T.J. Esposito.
The winner will serve the remainder of Mr. McCarthy’s term, which expires Jan. 3, 2025.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

Author

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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