California Governor Contemplates Keeping Trump Off California's Ballot
Credit: Gage Skidmore
July 28, 2019

There's a very special bill sitting on Gavin Newsom's desk in California's state capital. Passed by the Democratic dominated legislature after the 2016 election, it demands the submission of tax returns for any candidate to be considered eligible to appear on California's state ballot.

Gavin Newsom has spent the first six months of his governorship positioning himself as the West Coast anti-Trump while taking pains to distinguish himself from his legendary predecessor, Jerry Brown.

Those two strands intersect in a piece of legislation sitting on Newsom's desk that would compel President Donald Trump and other presidential candidates to release their tax returns if they want to appear on California ballots.

Although going after Trump is typically political gold for Newsom, the bill — which Brown vetoed in 2017 — poses a tricky balancing act for the rookie governor: Signing it would shore up Newsom’s base and boost his national profile within the Democratic Party, with other Democratic-led states following his lead. But doing so may rile up dormant California Republicans, and fray Sacramento’s relationship with the Trump administration, which Newsom has tried to keep functional despite bitter disputes over everything from immigration to auto emissions policy.

If signed, the bill will definitely be challenged in court, and the constitutionality is by no means guaranteed. And it will definitely make things harder on Californians as wildfires and earthquakes hit us and we need federal emergency assistance.

But wouldn't it be sweet for Trump to be told that he's not on the ballot of the single most populous state? It's schadenfreude-licious.

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