California rule change means Padilla faces extra election

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.)
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A new California law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) means voters will get two chances to choose a replacement to fill the U.S. Senate seat once held by Vice President Kamala Harris next year.

The legislation, which Newsom signed on Monday, will bring California into compliance with the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which permitted the direct election of senators. Legislative analysts said it is unclear whether current state law complies with the amendment’s authorization of a temporary appointee beyond the subsequent general election.

In practice, the bill will require California voters to vote twice for U.S. Senate candidates — once to fill the remaining months of Harris’s term, between the Nov. 8 midterm elections and the beginning of the next Congress, in January 2023, and once for a full six-year term that begins in January.

Newsom chose a close political ally, Alex Padilla (D), to fill Harris’s seat. 

Padilla intends to run for reelection — but at the same time, he will have to run for the remaining two months of Harris’s unexpired term. 

Voters in California decide general election nominees through a top-two primary, so those voters will have to choose nominees for both the partial and the full term in the June 7 primary. The top two vote-getters in both races will advance to the November general election, when voters will choose again.

Padilla will be the overwhelming favorite in both contests, though he will face no shortage of challengers. Twenty-three candidates have filed to run for the seat, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission. Padilla, who reported $4.1 million in the bank at the end of June, is the only contender with significant financial resources. 

The measure passed the legislature on bipartisan votes.

“We’re going to continue working hard to earn the support of California voters in both the Special and the regularly scheduled elections,” a Padilla spokeswoman told The Hill in an email.

Updated at 2:29 p.m.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Alex Padilla California Gavin Newsom senate elections Special Election

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