San Clemente Councilman Robert “Bob” Baker Challenged by Another Robert “Bob” Baker
Posted by Chris Nguyen on August 7, 2012
In what will be one of the most entertaining races this November, Republican San Clemente City Councilman Robert “Bob” Baker may face his most formidable/helpful/confusing opponent ever: businessman Robert “Bob” Baker.
On July 16, the first day of filing, incumbent Baker pulled papers for re-election. Then on July 26, challenger Baker pulled papers to run. On July 31, incumbent Baker filed his papers. Yesterday, August 6, challenger Baker filed his papers.
Good news for the Bakers, the Legislature thought of this already. In a 1931 Los Angeles Times article, Senator George Rochester (R-Los Angeles) announced that he was introducing SB 300 to remedy the problem of candidates with similar names. Governor James Rolph (R-San Francisco) signed SB 300 into law. SB 300 has survived in substantially the same form as it did 81 years ago and is now known as Elections Code Section 13107.
What is Section 13107? Well, we all know it as the section providing for ballot designations, the little words appearing under a candidate’s name that describes his/her profession, occupation, or vocation. Yes, ballot designations – the source of many lawsuits and in many cases, the key to a candidate’s victory – started out as a way to deal with similar names.
Incumbent Baker wants to use “Councilmember/Retired Aviator” as his ballot designation while challenger Baker wants to use “Businessman” as his.
Unfortunately, Senator Rochester solved a problem that had already been solved four years earlier. In 1927, Assemblyman James Finn (R-San Francisco) wrote AB 1170, which was signed into law by Governor C.C. Young (R-San Francisco). AB 1170 survives to this day in substantially the same form as it did 85 years ago and is now known as Elections Code Section 13118:
The following rules apply whenever any person who is a candidate for any office believes that some other person with a name that is so similar that it may be confused with his or her name has filed or will file a nomination paper for the same office:
(a) The candidate may, at the time of filing his or her nomination paper, or within five days after the time for filing nomination papers has expired, file with the county elections official a statement that shall be in substance as follows:
“I ____, believe that some other person, whose name is so similar to mine that it may be confused with mine, has filed or will file a nomination paper for the same office for which I have filed a nomination paper, and I therefore request and direct that number ____ be printed with my name on the ballot as a distinguishing mark.
_____ _____ Name Candidate for the officeof ”
(b) The distinguishing mark shall be a number and shall be printed in large boldface type at the left of the name on the ballot.
(c) If two or more candidates for the same office designate the same distinguishing number, the first candidate who filed his or her nomination papers shall have the number, and other candidates who designate the same number may file papers designating other distinguishing numbers.
(d) In addition to the designated number or numbers that the county elections official shall place on the ballot when the above conditions are met, he or she shall place on the ballot, immediately following the designation of the office and immediately preceding the names of the candidates to be voted upon, the following warning in boldface type:
“Warning! There are two (or applicable number) candidates for this office with identical names.”
This warning shall also be included, in boldface type and in a prominent manner, on any sample ballot, ballot pamphlet, or other mailing sent by the county elections official, prior to the election, to persons eligible to vote for this office.
Incumbent Baker has already requested the number 1.
It’s unclear what the effect of having two Robert “Bob” Bakers on the ballot will be. Voters may select up to two candidates since two council seats are up. Might San Clemente voters cast their for both Bakers? Or will they be confused and split the Baker vote? Only time will tell.
There are four Robert Bakers registered to vote in San Clemente – two Republicans and two Democrats, and three of whom are between the ages of 60-64 while the fourth is 51. No word yet on if the other two Robert Bakers are going to run.