California Republican Party Official Files Lawsuit, Asserting that Two Republican Congressional Candidates are “Sham” Candidates and Should be Removed from Ballot

On March 24, Jeffrey Wald, a member of the Alameda County, California, Republican Central Committee, filed a lawsuit, charging that two Republican candidates in a particular Congressional race are sham candidates who entered the race to split the Republican vote and cause no Republican to qualify for the general election ballot. The case, Wald v Dupuis, Sacramento County Superior Court 2014-80001798, concerns the U.S. House race in the 17th district. UPDATE: Vinesh Singh Rathore has been removed from the ballot because two of his signatures appeared forged. See the post above.

That race has three Republicans and two Democrats. The incumbent, Mike Honda, a Democrat, was re-elected in 2012 with 159,392 votes; his Republican opponent, Evelyn Li, only received 57,336 votes. Honda is running for another term. The first Republican who filed for the 2014 race is Dr. Vanila Singh, who has been recognized by the National Republican Congressional Committee as a “young gun” who shows promise of running a successful campaign. The district is centered on San Jose and has a large population of voters with ethnic ties to India.

The lawsuit charges that two other Republican candidates filed at the last minute in an effort to dilute the Republican vote in the June 2014 primary, so that Singh is now less likely to place second. The late-filing Republicans are Vinesh Singh Rathore and Joel Vanlandingham. Even if the lawsuit produces convincing evidence that the two late-filing Republicans are “sham” candidates, and came into the race in an effort to damage Singh, the court is not likely to find reason to bar them from the ballot. There is one federal precedent, Smith v Cherry, 489 F 2d 1098 (7th circuit 1974) that ruled that the entry of a “sham” candidate designed to alter the nomination process can be grounds to invalidate the election and order a new election, but such precedents are scarce.

If California did not have a top-two system, the entry of “sham” candidates would have no effect on the Republican front-runner. But in California, in congressional races, the top vote-getters are the only candidates who can run in November.


California Republican Party Official Files Lawsuit, Asserting that Two Republican Congressional Candidates are “Sham” Candidates and Should be Removed from Ballot — No Comments

  1. If the GOP thinks 2 of the 3 candidates are RINO why not just
    endorse the non-RINO. It will go on the sample ballot as a
    party endorsement.

    This is a frivolous lawsuit. If I were the judge I would declare the lawsuit just that.

  2. It looks to me that Joel Vanlandingham is the only one with a
    Republican Party Preference that intended to affiliate with the
    Republican Party as an elector.

    Richard, why not post the link to this case. It would be interesting to read.

  3. It’s interesting to me that such claims are not more frequent than they are, especially under Top Two. Filing an (otherwise frivolous) lawsuit is just one way of several ways to get publicity for them.

  4. Thanks to Jim Riley’s information, I have skimmed the complaint. It’s actually about the validity of petition signatures, and mentions (allegedly) sham candidacies only as a rhetorical flourish.

  5. The judge tossed one candidate based on the petitions.

    There were certainly a lot of coincidences. Singh Rathmore used to work for the same law firm as Khanna. He appears to have grown up in Virginia, but now apparently works for Google. His filing document gives a street address at Google.

    Neither of the late filing candidates have filed with the FEC, and neither provided a website or e-mail address.

    VanLandingham was a San Jose mayoral candidate in 2002, finishing a very distant 2nd. The address on his filing is in very southern San Jose, outside the district. It is curious that a large number of his petition signers appear to have Indian names, and were allegedly told that it would help Khanna’s campaign.

    In an e-mail exchange, he claimed that he thought it was a conspiracy between Honda and the Democrats to get him off the ballot. Given that the principal of the law firm representing the plaintiff is Vice Chair of the California Republican Party, I find that dubious.

    Khanna has raised $2 million to run against Honda – so there is certainly a motive to get to a general election contest against Honda. And he was an assistant cabinet secretary in the Obama administration – so should be suspect. But there is also the possibility that this is a squabble about ethnic politics.

  6. I wouldn’t characterize the district as centered on San Jose, It is the northernmost part of Santa Clara County and southern Alameda County, with only a small part of San Jose in the furthest south part of the district.

    Sunnyvale is the largest city, with the San Jose portion 2nd, and Fremont (in Alameda County) just behind.

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