Ken Weir comes out ahead in AD 32 write-in race

Official Ballot Box on Kern St outside the Fresno County Clerk/Elections Office.(Kenny Goodman)

State Assembly District 32 write-in candidate Ken Weir is in a solid position to move on to the November general election

TULARE & KERN COUNTY – Bakersfield City Councilman Ken Weir has effectively punched his ticket to Sacramento after landing among the top two vote-getters in a State Assembly race that had no real candidate printed out on paper.

Weir is one of four certified write-in candidates vying for a spot under State Assembly District 32 on the November general election ballot alongside incumbent Vince Fong. Weir is the Bakersfield City Council member representing Ward 3 and has also served as the chair of the Kern County Republican Party since 2017. He works as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

“I appreciate the thousands of voters who wrote in my name for the 32nd Assembly seat,” Weir said. “It’s not often done, and every one of those write-in votes means that next fall when the Congressional race is finalized, the voters in this district will have my name in print on the ballot.”

Fong, for all intents and purposes, is not running for reelection and is instead seeking out the Congressional District 20 seat vacated by former Rep. Kevin McCarthy; nevertheless, he remains listed as a candidate for State Assembly.

Primary election results as of March 14 showed Weir receiving more than 10,000 votes, making up 15.5% of the total votes cast within the district that spans portions of Kern and Tulare counties. Despite Fong repeatedly saying he is only running for Congress since December 2023, his presence on the ballot yielded him 82.8% of the vote.

Other candidates running as write-ins include Republicans Ian David Smith and Thomas Willis and Democrat David Wood. Wood, the only candidate from Tulare County, had received 1% of the vote, Willis received 0.5% and Smith received 0.1%.

It is important to note that ballots with write-in candidates can take longer to count, and results for the write-in candidates are not included with other results on the California Secretary of State’s website; however, they are included on the election results updates released by county election offices.

As with all other races, the final results for State Assembly District 32, including the write-in candidates, will be certified by the Secretary of State on April 12.

According to campaign finance data accessible through the California Automated Lobbyist and Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Search System (CAL-ACCESS), Weir raised just under $75,000 for his campaign, including contributions made through Feb. 29.

The other three write-in candidates do not have campaign finance committee data listed on CAL-ACCESS. Candidates who raise or spend less than $2,000 in a calendar year or who spend less than $1,000 of personal funds are not required to establish a campaign committee that would then appear on CAL-ACCESS.

With Fong not running a State Assembly campaign and stating that if he secures the Congressional seat he will resign from the Assembly, Weir will be on the November ballot virtually unopposed. In fact, Weir has received Fong’s endorsement as the candidate Fong would like to see replace him.

“There’s so much that must be done to change the attitude of Sacramento politicians so that we can live in a state with good job opportunities and a cost of living that corresponds to our needs,” Weir said. “I look forward to a strong campaign the rest of this year and to listening to the voters in Tulare and Kern counties.”

This all happened because the campaign filing period for the Assembly seat closed on Dec. 8, 2023, with Fong as the sole candidate. Then, Fong announced on Dec. 11, 2023, that he filed for the 20th Congressional District race. He was able to do this because the filing period for that race was extended after McCarthy’s Dec. 6, 2023, resignation announcement.

At the time Fong announced his Congressional candidacy, he said he would have removed his name from contention in the State Assembly race if he was able to do so.

The California Elections Code does not allow for candidates to withdraw from a primary election if they have already filed the declaration of candidacy for that election. Candidates nominated in a primary election are also not allowed to withdraw from the ensuing general election, so Fong still has no way of taking his name off the November ballot.

In December 2023, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber had initially ruled that Fong was ineligible to run for Congress because he had already qualified as an Assembly candidate.

Fong challenged Weber in the Sacramento Superior Court and won; however, the judge in the decision noted that having Fong listed under both offices could lead to voter confusion.

Weber is in the process of appealing the Sacramento Court’s ruling, and oral arguments for her case have been scheduled for April 4.

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