Californians to vote 4 times in 2022 for same Senate seat
Concerns about the constitutionality of California’s long-standing US Senate vacancy law next year will translate into a potentially confusing one-size-fits-all solution: Work.
The change, enacted by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, will have the most immediate impact on the political efforts of Senator Alex Padilla, appointed by Newsom after Vice President Kamala Harris stepped down from her post in the Senate to take second place in the country. work in january.
Padilla, who is running for a full six-year Senate term in 2022, will now have to run in concurrent elections to continue serving the remainder of Harris’s term. Voters will see two races – a special Senate election and the regular election – side by side on the ballot in June, and then again in November.
Lawmakers pointed to a pair of federal court rulings in cases involving Illinois and Arizona, each suggesting that the method California has long used to fill Senate vacancies could be ruled illegal under the 17th Amendment. of the US Constitution.
The law Newsom signed, Assembly Bill 1495, requires the governor to call two elections to fill a Senate seat – contests held in conjunction with the upcoming regular primary and general elections. If no election is scheduled before the end of the unused time in office, the governor could call a special election to fill the vacant post.
Prior to Harris’ resignation and Padilla’s appointment, there had not been a Senate vacancy in the middle of an elected term in California since 1991, when newly-elected Governor Pete Wilson appointed Republican John Seymour to fill the vacancies. two years remaining of Wilson’s term in the Senate. Seymour lost his candidacy for a new six-year term in 1992 to Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
In Seymour’s case, Wilson called a special election to be held concurrently with the 1992 election, even though the Senate term was supposed to last until 1996.
The US constitutional amendment in question was enacted in 1913 and abolished the practice of senators appointed by state legislatures. Recent Federal Court rulings, according to an analysis of the California bill, cast doubt on extended governor appointments and upheld the constitutional provision calling for an “election to fill these vacancies.”
Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016 for a six-year term that expires on January 3, 2023. Under the law signed by Newsom, Padilla must stand for election to serve those months while competing for his own six-year term. . In work.
âAB 1495 ensures that California law complies with the 17th Amendment,â MP Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), chairman of the Assembly’s Elections and Decoupage Committee, said during a legislative debate in may.
Berman also noted that consolidating vacant Senate elections with regular election cycles “would ensure the greatest turnout in these elections” while avoiding the cost of holding special elections in all 58 counties.
Even so, voters may not easily understand what goes on in the June statewide primary. They will see two races for the same seat on the ballot, potentially with a mix of the same or different candidates. Padilla’s name will appear twice, as he seeks to complete Harris’ tenure and then start a new one.
Assembly member Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), an unsuccessful recall candidate for governor, was one of the earliest criticisms of Newsom’s decision not to hold an election to replace Harris. But he was critical of AB 1495 as he made his way to the Legislature, arguing that the bill gives too much leeway to the governor to decide when Senate elections may be vacant.
“In my opinion, the best approach would be to hold an election as soon as possible, to restore full attribution of California to the elected senators of the United States,” Kiley said during the legislative debate in May.
Although vacancies in the Senate are rare, Kiley and other Republicans believe the problem could soon return if Feinstein – elected in a special competition – decides to step down before her current term ends in January 2025.
Newsom, facing close scrutiny in March over her selection for Padilla and with the recall effort looming, has vowed to nominate a black woman to the Senate if Feinstein retires. Hours after the governor’s comments, Feinstein flatly rejected the idea that she might have any plans to quit her job.