SACRAMENTO (AP) — A judge ruled Monday that California Gov. Gavin Newsom can’t put his Democratic Party affiliation on the ballot voters see when they decide whether to remove him.

Newsom’s campaign missed a deadline to submit his affiliation to California Secretary of State Shirley Weber for the Sept. 14 recall election. Newsom’s campaign said it was inadvertent and asked Weber, who was appointed by Newsom, to allow the affiliation to appear.

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She said the issue needed to go to a judge and so Newsom filed a lawsuit. Newsom’s Republican opponents criticized the lawsuit as an attempt to change rules everyone else must follow.

Newsom’s elections attorney, Thomas Willis, and an attorney for Weber, argued during an hour-long hearing Friday that Newsom merely missed an arbitrary, harmless filing deadline and that it is in voters’ best interest to know his party preference.

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Adding that information now wouldn’t cause a procedural problem because elections officials still have enough time to ensure Newsom’s party preference appears on the ballot along with those seeking to replace him, Weber said in a court filing.

“At base this comes down to whether the governor of California has to follow the unambiguous law — and it just so happens, a law that he signed,” countered attorney Eric Early, representing recall proponents including lead proponents Orrin Heatlie and Mike Netter and the California Patriot Coalition.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles on Monday rejected Newsom’s lawsuit, saying state law regarding the deadline is “unambiguous.”

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