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By Casey Christie / The Californian
BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer email@example.com
When you walk into the voting booth on June 3 you're sure to see only one name on the 23rd Congressional District ballot.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, doesn't have an opponent in this year's primary election.
But by November he will most likely have picked one up.
Credit that magic trick to California's new top-two primary system and a bevy of write-in candidates who are throwing their names into the 23rd District race.
Abbe Shugart, Kern County elections program coordinator, said three people have taken out papers to run as write-in candidates in June.
They pay no filing fee. All they need to do is have 40 registered voters sign their nomination papers and meet the basic requirements to run for the job.
Mike Biglay of Tehachapi, registered as American Independent, has completed his paperwork to become a candidate, Shugart said, and is waiting to be certified.
Ronald Porter of Ridgecrest, registered as no party preference, has pulled that paperwork.
And Libertarian Gail Lightfoot of Arroyo Grande has paperwork as well, Shugart said.
None of those names will be on the June ballot.
But the one certified write-in candidate who earns the most votes in June -- by having people write their name on the ballot -- will have his or her name printed on the ballot with McCarthy's in the November general election.
Calls to the potential write-in candidates were not retuned Friday.
A representative with the California Secretary of State's office said the top-two system creates a unique opportunity for write-in candidates to get their name on the November ballot.
Under the new rule, the two people who get the most votes automatically become the certified candidates on the general election ballot.
Prior to the implementation of the top two system, a write-in candidate had to be the top vote-getter in his or her political party and pull down a large number of votes -- at least 1 percent of the votes cast the last time the seat was up for grabs.
For the 23rd Congressional District, this year, that would have meant landing more than 2,100 votes.
But, under the top two primary system, McCarthy is all but guaranteed to have an opponent on the November ballot -- even if his name is the only one printed on the June ballot.
Don't expect McCarthy to start shaking in his boots.
He's the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He had $2.8 million in his campaign fund on March 31.
And he won his last election with 73.2 percent of the vote despite a passionate challenge by no party preference candidate Terry Phillips, who raised $49,300 for the fight.