Fong files lawsuit to appear on ballot for Congress

The Bakersfield Assemblyman argues that the Secretary of State’s authority is only ministerial in nature.

Asm. Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield) has filed a lawsuit against California Secretary of State Shirley Weber for ruling that he is ineligible to run for Congress. 

The lawsuit will have to be heard in the coming days due to the Dec. 28 deadline for Weber to release a certified list of candidates for Congressional races. 


The backstory: Last week Weber ruled that Fong is barred from running due to state law that only allows candidates to run for one public office at a time. 

  • Fong had already qualified to run for re-election for Assembly District 32 before he jumped into the race for Congressional District 20 after Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) announced his retirement. 

The lawsuit: Fong filed the lawsuit against Weber in Sacramento County Superior Court on Friday. 

  • In the lawsuit, Fong argues that the century-old state law only applies to “independent candidate nominations,” a process that was abandoned when the state adopted the current “top two” nomination process. 
  • That was adopted by California voters in 2010 with the passage of Proposition 14 – the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act. The Secretary of State’s website explains that there is no independent nomination process any more now that Proposition 14 is in place. 
  • Fong argues that Weber’s citing of Elections Code section 8003 is incorrect because that specific code only applies to the independent nomination of candidates. 
  • A judge will likely have to decide on part B of section 8003, which reads: “No person may file nomination papers for a party nomination and an independent nomination for the same office, or for more than one office at the same election. 
  • The lawsuit also argues that the candidate filing process goes through county election offices, while the Secretary of State’s power is to “receive and file” nomination documents – a purely ministerial duty. 
  • “The Secretary’s attempted unilateral expansion of her powers must be rejected by this Court and Mr. Fong must be restored to the ballot for CD-20,” the lawsuit reads. “Under the United States Constitution, deciding who runs and is elected to federal legislative office is a question only for the candidate, the voters, and the legislative body itself. The executive branch is a ministerial participant without any powers not expressly provided to it by the legislative branch.” 

What they’re saying: “The voters of the 20th Congressional District deserve the opportunity to select the candidate of their choice in the March 5th election,” Fong said in a statement. “This lawsuit is about upholding the integrity of our elections and defending the rights of Central Valley voters against the overreach and interference of Sacramento politicians.”

Related Posts