San Francisco Chronicle
Judge reinstates talk radio host, puts recall ballot in flux
SACRAMENTO — A judge ordered California election officials to reinstate conservative talk radio host Larry Elder to the gubernatorial recall ballot on Wednesday, throwing the list of candidates into question shortly before it was due to be certified by the state.
In her ruling, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Laurie Earl tossed out a requirement to submit five years of federal income tax returns that had tripped up Elder, and potentially several other prospective candidates, keeping them off a preliminary list released over the weekend.
Though Elder is now certain to be among at least 43 candidates seeking to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Sept. 14 recall election, the Secretary of State’s Office had not yet released a certified list by Wednesday evening because it was
still figuring out how to apply Earl’s order.
One other hopeful, Republican retired special education teacher Rhonda Furin, also sued after she was disqualified for submitting incomplete tax returns, and a spokesperson for Secretary of State Shirley Weber said there might be more candidates added to the ballot when she issues the certified list by the end of the day.
Elder, a Republican, celebrated the court ruling as a victory for the people of California.
“We fought the shenanigans of Sacramento’s politicians and we won,” he said in a statement. “If elected governor, I will fight every single day for this state. This is just the beginning.”
A California law adopted in 2019 requires candidates to provide five years of federal income tax returns to run in the primary for governor.
Weber determined last month that the requirement should apply to potential candidates in the recall as well, which her attorney said was driven by a desire to make it run as much like an ordinary gubernatorial election as possible. Some legal experts questioned her decision, but it went unchallenged prior to the filing deadline and the tax forms submitted by more than 40 candidates were made available this week for public review.
Elder was left off the preliminary list of candidates for apparently providing incomplete tax returns to the state. He sued late Monday, arguing that Weber had overstepped her authority by adding that provision to eligibility requirements.
During a brief hearing Wednesday, Earl agreed that the tax disclosure requirement did not apply and that Elder had therefore fulfilled the necessary steps to file his candidacy. She ordered from the bench that Elder be allowed to run.
“I don’t find that the recall election is a direct primary election ballot,” Earl said. “By reaching that finding, I don’t find that Mr. Elder was required to file tax returns at all.”
Two other candidates who sued Weber over ballot disputes found less favor in court Wednesday.
Republican Kevin Faulconer, who led California’s secondlargest city from 2014 until he termed out in December, lost a bid to label himself “retired San Diego mayor.” He will instead appear on the ballot as a “businessman/educator.”
“Voters have a right to transparent and accurate information about Mayor Faulconer’s record and this decision defies common sense,” spokesperson John Burke said in a statement.
Another judge ruled that Democrat Kevin Paffrath, a real estate agent and YouTuber with almost 1.7 million subscribers, could not use his social media nickname “Meet Kevin” on the ballot.