Here’s what is happening behind the scenes.
California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a Democrat, has chosen to retain the name of former President Donald Trump on the official list of certified candidates for the upcoming presidential primary on March 5. Despite pressure from the state’s lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis, to exclude Trump, Weber remained silent on the matter, emphasizing her commitment to the rule of law.
In response to an open letter from Lt. Gov. Kounalakis, Weber had stated the seriousness of removing a candidate under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, cautioning that such a decision should not be made lightly. She stressed that this process is more complex than the straightforward age requirement for presidential eligibility.
Governor Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, aligned with Weber’s decision, asserting that Trump should be defeated through the democratic process rather than removed from the ballot. Despite acknowledging Trump as a threat to liberties and democracy, Newsom emphasized the importance of addressing such concerns through elections.
The debate over Trump’s inclusion on the ballot extended beyond California, with varying decisions in different states. While Maine’s Secretary of State excluded Trump from the ballot, Michigan opted to keep him listed. In California, where Democrats hold sway, speculation had arisen about a potential ballot challenge, but legal experts pointed out that the secretary of state lacks the full authority to disqualify a presidential candidate under state regulations.
Weber faced a Thursday deadline to certify the official candidate list in California, a crucial step in preparing ballots for the upcoming primary election. As Democrats wrestled with differing opinions within the state, the controversy highlighted the intricacies and legal limitations surrounding the exclusion of a candidate from the electoral process.