Appeals court rules to keep Fong on Congressional ballot

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber had her second attempt at removing Asm. Vince Fong from the ballot rejected.

Asm. Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield) can remain on the ballot for Congress after the Third District Court of Appeal struck down the state’s attempt to remove him. 

Following a hearing in the case last week, the appellate court issued an opinion on Monday rejecting the appeal from California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who argued that Fong violated a century-old law by running for two offices simultaneously. 


The backstory: After Fong filed to run for Congressional District 20 last December following former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s retirement from the House, Weber removed Fong from the ballot because he was also running for reelection in the Assembly. 

  • Weber’s argument was centered on a state law that, up until now, had prevented candidates from running for two offices at the same time. 
  • But Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang thought otherwise, siding with Fong in a lawsuit to get his name back on the Congressional ballot. 
  • Weber filed an appeal, arguing that Chang overlooked long-standing precedent and viewed Elections Code Section 8003(b) in a vacuum, bringing it to an absurd result. 

The big picture: Monday, the appellate court rejected Weber’s lawsuit, with the judges ruling that they are not convinced that the facts of the case lead to absurd results. 

  • They also ruled that Elections Code Section 8003(b) must be enforced as written and only apply to independent candidates. 
  • “If the Legislature wants to prohibit candidates from running for more than one office at the same election, it is free to do so,” the ruling reads. “Unless and until it does so, however, we must take section 8003 as we find it and enforce it as written.” 
  • Further, the appellate judges ruled that since Fong has not submitted nomination papers for a party nomination and an independent nomination for more than one office at the same election, Section 8003(b) does not apply to his candidacy. 
  • However, the appellate judges acknowledged in their ruling that “anomalous results” could occur because of their ruling, which points to the potential for candidates to run for multiple offices at the same time in the future without action by the Legislature. 

What they’re saying: Fong celebrated the ruling Monday, saying it is a victory for the voters of the 20th District who have supported him and are sending him to the general election in November. 

  • “I am grateful that our judicial system has upheld the integrity of our elections and sided with Central Valley voters and our communities. The foundation of our democratic process – voter choice – was preserved,” Fong said. “This decision puts to end the unnecessary and ill-advised campaign in Sacramento to deprive voters of a real choice in this election. I look forward to continuing to campaign across the Central Valley before the May 21st special election and November 5th general election.” 
  • The Sun reached out to Weber’s office to see if she will appeal the ruling to the California Supreme Court, and Weber said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that she is considering all options.
  • “We disagree with and are disappointed with the Court of Appeals ruling. The opinion runs contrary to California history and practice. Both the Court of Appeals and trial court recognize this ruling leaves the door open to chaos, gamesmanship and voter disenfranchisement, and disadvantages other candidates,” Weber said in a statement. “My office sought to avoid such problems through this litigation. This ruling highlights the need for legislative attention. We are carefully considering all our options.”
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