By Paul LeBlanc and Stella Chan, CNN
California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday sued his own secretary of state in an effort to have his party affiliation listed on the state’s upcoming recall election ballot following what he called a filing “mistake” by his election attorney last year.
Newsom wants to “require all recall ballots to include either next to or below Newsom’s name his party preference as follows: ‘Party Preference: Democratic,'” according to the lawsuit filed against California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who Newsom nominated swore in earlier this year.
The California Democrat was supposed to mark his party affiliation in February 2020 pursuant to the state’s recall election law, but “due to an inadvertent but good faith mistake on the part of his election attorney, Newsom timely filed his answer but did not include his party-preference election,” the lawsuit said.
Newsom corrected the mistake with Weber’s office this month, but she “declined to accept the notice, necessitating this action,” according to the lawsuit. Weber’s office told CNN in a statement that “the Secretary of State’s office has a ministerial duty to accept timely filed documents. Acceptance of filings beyond a deadline requires judicial resolution.”
The filing argues that the secretary of state can accept changes to the recall ballot at least 59 days before the election, when the nomination period for replacement candidates ends. The date for the recall election has not been determined.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by Courthouse News Service, brings a notable wrinkle to Newsom’s efforts to stay in office as he faces the second election in state history to recall a sitting governor.
State officials confirmed last week that a recall election would proceed after just 43 people withdrew their signatures from petitions to recall the governor during a 30-day window required by state law.
The recall drive has been fueled by anger over the restrictions Newsom put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 throughout last year and during an alarming surge in cases in California during the winter holiday months.
Critics of Newsom had met the state’s threshold for a recall election in April following a sprawling effort to gather signatures in every county that was backed by key Republican strategists.
But Newsom and his team have framed the recall as an effort by supporters of former President Donald Trump and right-wing extremists to wrest control of the government from progressives.
“It is what it is. This is a Republican recall,” Newsom said in an exclusive interview with CNN earlier this year. “An RNC-backed Republican recall of White supremacists, anti-Semites and people who are opposed to immigration and immigrants is an accurate assessment of who’s behind this recall.”
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CNN’s Maeve Reston and Alexandra Meeks contributed to this report.