California’s Democratic lawmakers have a plan for thwarting President Trump in the 2020 presidential primary – Los Angeles Times


Democrats in the California Legislature, still smarting from the election of President Trump, embraced a pair of proposed laws early Saturday that they hope would reshape the 2020 presidential contest in the image of America’s most populous state.

The two measures taken together are perhaps the strongest effort in years by state lawmakers seeking to erase California’s long status as an electoral afterthought.

“It’s time for Californians to have a louder voice about who is going to lead our country,” state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), said during a legislative hearing on his bill to move the state’s 2020 presidential primary from June 2 to March 3.

The hope, supporters said, is that presidential candidates will spend significant time campaigning in the Golden State to try to win the state’s sizable share of the total delegates needed to secure the nomination of either the Democratic or Republican parties.

More provocative was a second proposal crafted by Democrats, Senate Bill 149, that could ban Trump from appearing on California’s primary ballot if he doesn’t provide a copy of his income tax returns to state elections officials. While the mandate would apply to all presidential hopefuls, its authors admit the idea came to them after Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns in 2016.

“Making your tax returns public is a pretty low-threshold to meet,” state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) said in a statement before adjournment. “The American people shouldn’t be in the dark about their president’s financial entanglements.”

Both bills now head to Gov. Jerry Brown, who hasn’t commented on either proposal. Neither of them may be a slam dunk, either in practice or in principle.

Critics of SB 149 have argued for months that imposing a new threshold for presidential candidates to access the California primary ballot might not pass legal muster. They’ve cited court cases related to state laws governing congressional candidate requirements in other states as an ominous precedent, though the rulings may not be applicable to presidential contenders. Supporters cited their own litany of cases they claim will allow California to set the new rules regarding tax returns.