Midterms: California Rule Change Forces Double Election for U.S. Senate in 2022

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla talks about voting rights and announces new voter registration numbers Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Legislation signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday will force Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) to run in two separate elections next year if he chooses to stay in elected office after he replaced now Vice President Kamala Harris in the upper chamber of Congress.

Voters will have two chances to find replacements in the crowded midterm elections, where Padilla is favored to win after he has shown intent to run for reelection. Padilla will have to run for reelection and separately for the remaining few months of the term, from November until the new Congress in January.

The new law — that passed with bipartisan votes — would require voters to vote twice in the election next year: The first vote would be to fill the seat for the remaining months of the term (from November to January) that Padilla took over from Harris after being appointed by Newsom. The second would be for the full six-year term, customarily held by U.S. senators, which begins in January 2023.

California decides who their general election nominees are from a top-two primary, allowing candidates with the top two vote tallies to advance from the June primary to the general election in November. Californians will select two nominees for both the partial and the full term next June.

Newsom chose Padilla — a close political ally from California — to replace Harris — another close Newsom ally – after she became the vice president.

Padilla reportedly has over four million dollars in the bank at the end of June, gearing up for the midterms. The Hill reported 23 candidates had filed papers to run.

The new law is supposed to bring California into adherence with the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing the direct election of senators.

The Hill noted that legislative analysts are unsure “whether current state law complies with the amendment’s authorization of a temporary appointee beyond the subsequent general election.”

Follow Jacob Bliss on Twitter @jacobmbliss.

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