A California judge ruled Thursday that state Rep. Vince Fong (R), a former staffer and mentee of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), may run for Congress to replace his former boss, succeeding in a challenge after he was deemed ineligible.
California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) determined Fong could not be placed on the congressional ballot because he had already declared reelection for the state Assembly, and state law barred a candidate from being on a ballot twice.
But state Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that Weber’s determination was in fact a “creative” use of law “wholly inapplicable to him.”
Chang said the state law that barred Fong from the ballot only applied to independent candidates for Congress, not partisan primaries.
Fong celebrated the ruling.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the voters of the 20th Congressional District, who will now have the opportunity to select the candidate of their choice in the March 5th election,” he said in a statement Thursday. “I am grateful that Judge Chang upheld the integrity of our elections and sided with Central Valley voters against an overreaching Sacramento politician.”
Confusion over ballot eligibility came after state Sen. Shannon Grove (R) turned down a bid for McCarthy’s seat. She was seen as the favorite to replace the former Speaker, with Fong stepping up the day after she chose not to run.
McCarthy quickly endorsed him.
The judge did warn, however, that her ruling could cause confusion among voters if he is elected to both offices.
“It somewhat defies common sense to find the law permits a candidate to run for two offices during the same election,” Chang wrote. “However, as stated above, the Court is compelled to interpret the law as it is written by the Legislature and finds Elections Code section 8003 is inapplicable to Fong’s petition.”
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