California governor on verge of move that could keep Trump off the 2020 ballot
Gavin Newsom (XPRIZE Foundation/Flickr)

On Saturday, Politico reported that California Gov. Gavin Newsom may be about to jump into the political fight to force President Donald Trump to disclose his tax returns — in a big way.

A bill is currently sitting on his desk in Sacramento that would require any presidential candidate to make their returns public in order to qualify for the ballot in California. Democrats in the legislature already passed such a measure in 2017, but it was vetoed by Newsom's predecessor Jerry Brown, who cited constitutional concerns.

Kicking Trump off the ballot in California would not affect his chances of winning a second term, as he has never and was never expected to carry the state. But it would mean California Republicans have no statewide candidacy of any kind to vote for in 2020, a potential death blow to down-ballot candidates who want to chip away at Democrats' House majority.

It remains an open question, though, whether Newsom will actually approve the bill this time around. On one hand, he was elected to office on a tidal wave of anti-Trump fury and is eager to distinguish his administration from Brown's. On the other hand, he is also conscientious about keeping a dialogue open with the administration for basic governmental issues, and worries Trump could shut that dialogue down if California takes too aggressive a posture against him.