Friday, February 10, 2006
Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Extending Candidate Statement Deadline
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has approved urgency legislation that will postpone the deadline for judicial candidates in the June primary to turn in their candidate statement for inclusion in the sample ballot pamphlet.
An aide to the governor said late Wednesday that he had signed AB 1129. The bill, which passed both houses of the Legislature without a negative vote, takes immediate effect as an urgency measure
Candidates for superior court seats around the state now have until March 15, five days after the filing deadline, to submit their 200-word statements for inclusion in the ballot pamphlet mailed to all voting households.
The bill was passed at the urging of the California Judges Association and its Sacramento lobbyist, Michael Belote.
Belote told the MetNews he became involved in the issue after a Northern California judge called to point out an apparent unintended byproduct of a recent change in state election laws.
Lawmakers adopted a proposal, designed to relieve the paperwork burden on local election officials, to replace the two-step filing procedure for judicial candidates—and some others—with a one-step process. Instead of having to file a declaration of intent to run, then come back later to file nomination documents, a candidate need only file one set of papers.
The period for doing so is from 113 to 88 days before the primary, so this year’s filing will begin Monday and end March 10. But because March 10 is also the deadline for filing candidate statements, Belote pointed out, the practical implication is that incumbent judges who have not been challenged must file their statements anyway because of the possibility that an opponent will file at the last minute.
Under the old procedure, if no challenger filed a declaration of intent, the judge only had to file his or her own documents on time to be assured of running unopposed.
But under the new procedure, the possibility of last-minute opposition requires the incumbent—there are 147 judges up for re-election in Los Angeles County this year, although four have slated retirements and are not running—to prepay the estimated cost of printing and mailing the candidate statement. The prepayment in Los Angeles County was $65,000 in 2004.
By the time he learned of the problem, Belote said, the deadline for introducing new legislation had passed, but CJA, after securing support from local election officials, was able to get its proposal through the Senate because it was amended onto a dormant bill by Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy, R-Monrovia, dealing with an unrelated issue.
Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, carried the bill in the Senate.
The bill only applies for this year. After that, Belote said, CJA is likely to seek passage of a bill that would restore the two-step procedure, but for judicial candidates only.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company