By Jim Ellis
May 28, 2019 — Earlier this month, the California state Senate approved a bill that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to qualify for the Golden State ballot. A similar measure was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2017, but current Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is expected to sign the measure.
A total of 17 other states also have similar pending legislation, with the strongest chances for enactment coming most probably in New York and Washington.
The move, of course, is targeted at President Trump who will not release his tax returns. But, would denying him ballot placement in states that he won’t carry actually hurt him?
A contrary argument exists to suggest that Trump and the down-ballot Republican candidates in those states might actually receive some tangential benefits from the president not being on the official ballot in places like California and New York, in particular.
First, if Trump didn’t appear on the California, New York, and Washington ballots, it would not change the Electoral College outcome because he won’t carry any of those states. He will likely concede them at the outset and spend no campaign money in any of those locations. Therefore, his ballot placement in these places could arguably be irrelevant.