San Francisco Chronicle

Judge reinstates talk radio host, puts recall ballot in flux

- By Alexei Koseff

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.

 ?? Nina Riggio / The Chronicle ?? Radio talk show host Larry Elder was left off the initial roster of candidates vying to oust firstterm Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Nina Riggio / The Chronicle Radio talk show host Larry Elder was left off the initial roster of candidates vying to oust firstterm Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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