Kounalakis urges Secretary of State to explore options to remove Trump from ballot

Her letter to Secretary of State Shirley Weber contained a major mistake with how old the Constitution requires a president to be.

California Lieutenant Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is calling on Secretary of State Shirley Weber to bar former President Donald Trump from appearing on the ballot next year in the Golden State. 

Yet Kounalakis’s request was overshadowed by a mistake – or lack of knowledge – in her letter regarding the minimum age a candidate can be to run for president. 


The backstory: On Tuesday the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on a 4-3 decision that Trump is not eligible to run for president because of the events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. 

  • The court ruled that Trump cannot run because of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars insurrectionists from holding office. 

The big picture: Wednesday, Kounalakis – who is running for Governor in 2026 – sent a letter to Weber urging her to explore legal options to remove Trump from California’s March primary following the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling. 

  • “This decision is about honoring the rule of law in our country and protecting the fundamental pillars of our democracy,” Kounalakis wrote. 
  • Kounalakis wrote that California “must stand on the right side of history” and is obligated to determine if Trump is ineligible to appear on the ballot, telling Weber that the Colorado decision can be the basis for a similar decision in California. 
  • Kounalakis then originally wrote: “The constitution is clear: you must be 40 years old and not be an insurrectionist.” 
  • The U.S. Constitution requires that the president must be at least 35 years old, not 40 like Kounalakis initially wrote. 
  • After the letter was posted online, it was later changed to “you must not be 35 years old and not be an insurrectionist.” 
  • “There will be the inevitable political punditry about a decision to remove Trump from the ballot, but this is not a matter of political gamesmanship,” Kounalakis wrote. This is a dire matter that puts at stake the sanctity of our constitution and our democracy.” 

What they’re saying: California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson blasted Kounalakis for not knowing how old the Constitution requires the president to be. 

  • “Someone who thinks the Constitution says you have to be 40 to run for president is probably not the person who should be dictating to California voters who is constitutionally eligible for the ballot,” Patterson said in a statement.
  • Patterson added, “Once again, Democrats are salivating at any opportunity to deprive Republican voters of a full slate of candidates for our nation’s highest office. California Democrats need to quit meddling in Republicans’ primary and leave this decision to California voters.” 
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