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.