In the 2020 US elections, Sen. Harris is a major-party VP nominee and could decide to resign from the Senate before November to focus on her campaign. Gov. Newsom gets to appoint her replacement and could presumably pick someone who's on the November ballot, for example Rep. Cox. Under California's top-two rules, would the appointee's opponent, Rep. Valadao in this example, win unopposed?

(I'm not saying this is a likely or wise series of political decisions - I just want to know the rules about this thing. Write-in campaigns aren't allowed in top-two elections - that's all I know.)

  • Just going to note that there is no US Senate election in California this year.
    – Joe C
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 21:08
  • @JoeC thanks, I edited the question to make it clear which election I was thinking about. Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 21:18
  • There’s no need for such a convoluted scenario: you’d get the same issue if one candidate withdrew for any reason, or even died. I’d be interested in what the law said about this
    – divibisan
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 22:13
  • @divibisan indeed. Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 23:28
  • 1
    Why would she resign from office? Plenty of people had continued to run for reelection while running for the office of presidency in the past. Joe Biden is a perfect example of this when in 2008 he won reelection to the senate even though he also was on the ticket as VP and did win that. Considering that she isn't even up for reelection at this time I find it difficult to believe that the vp election duties would be much of a strain for her.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


Once a candidate has been nominated in a primary election in California, they are not allowed to withdraw their candidacy (CEC 8801).

If a candidate who had been nominated dies between the primary and the general election, the deceased candidate's name will remain on the ballot. If they subsequently win the election, then filling the seat is treated, for all intents and purposes, as if they had died on the first day of their term of office (CEC 8803(b)).

CEC: California Elections Code


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