Soros-Backed California Lieutenant Governor Calls on Elections Official To Block Trump From Ballot

Eleni Kounalakis (Araya Doheny/Getty Images)
December 21, 2023

California lieutenant governor Eleni Kounalakis (D.), the George Soros-backed candidate for governor in 2026, on Wednesday urged the state's elections official to "explore every legal option" to boot former president Donald Trump from the primary ballot.

Kounalakis said she was inspired by Colorado's all-Democrat supreme court, which in a split decision on Tuesday barred Trump from that state's primary ballot on the grounds that the former president "engaged in insurrection."

"California is obligated to determine if Trump is ineligible for the California ballot for the same reasons described in [the Colorado case]," Kounalakis wrote. "The Colorado decision can be the basis for a similar decision here in our state."

Kounalakis's letter comes as she tries to build her political profile in a bid to succeed Gavin Newsom as governor. Early this year, she became the first person to announce a run for the office. Democratic megadonor George Soros in June gave the maximum amount allowed to her campaign with a $36,400 contribution.

Trump has not been convicted of insurrection, as noted by the dissenting justices in the Colorado case, who warned that the majority's ruling violated due process. The justices who voted to ban Trump from the ballot have delayed their ruling from taking effect to allow for an appeal. Constitutional experts have warned of the dangers of the Colorado decision lauded by Kounalakis. Conservative legal scholar Jonathan Turley told Fox News that the ruling "just handed partisans on both sides the ultimate tool to try to shortcut elections, and it's very, very dangerous."

While the lieutenant governor teased the idea of finding additional legal means to disqualify Trump from the ballot, she proposed only that California follow Colorado's lead and use his alleged insurrection as a reason to boot him.

While Colorado's decision followed a lawsuit decided through the courts, Kounalakis is requesting unilateral action by the Democratic secretary of state, Shirley Weber. The turn-around would have to be rapid. Weber is due next week, on Dec. 28, to announce the candidates for California's March 5 primary.

State GOP leaders blasted the lieutenant governor for trying to interfere in the Republican primary.

"Once again, Democrats are salivating at any opportunity to deprive Republican voters of a full slate of candidates for our nation's highest office," California GOP chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said. "California Democrats need to quit meddling in Republicans' primary and leave this decision to California voters."

Kounalakis insisted her request "is not a matter of political gamesmanship" but rather a "dire matter" involving the "sanctity of our constitution and our democracy."

Kounalakis isn't the first California leader to try to block state residents from voting for Trump, who is poised to sweep the state's massive GOP delegate haul. In 2019, Newsom signed a law barring Trump from the state's primary ballot unless the then-president released his tax returns. Newsom's predecessor, former Democratic governor Jerry Brown, had vetoed similar legislation, arguing that it could create a dangerous precedent of "individual states seeking to regulate presidential elections."

California's supreme court, which has a Democratic majority, unanimously ruled that the 2019 law was unconstitutional and that Trump had to be allowed on the primary ballot.