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BethGaines.JPGAssemblywoman Beth Gaines gets to continue calling herself a "small business owner" on the ballot.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny rejected a challenge to the Rocklin Republican's approved ballot designation this morning.

Folsom Republican Andy Pugno, who is running against Gaines in the 6th Assembly District, filed a lawsuit last week arguing that his opponent's chosen ballot designation would mislead voters.

The ballot designation is based on a family insurance company formed by Gaines and her husband Ted Gaines, a state senator, earlier this year.

Pugno attorney Stephen Greene argued that the timing of the incorporation, which occurred just weeks before Gaines filed for re-election, raised questions about whether "small business owner" could be considered her primary occupation. They suggested changing her ballot designation to "small businesswoman/assemblywoman," an alternate previously submitted by Gaines' campaign based on her marketing work for another family insurance company.

But Gaines' attorney Brian Hildreth said her 50 percent share in the company makes the title accurate, pointing out that his client said in a declaration that she spends 10 to 15 hours a week on the new business. He said the company already has a physical presence in Roseville and is listed in the local chamber of commerce directory. He argued it would be "beyond the pale" for Gaines to make such claims just to use a job title on the ballot.

Kinney agreed that it was "factual" for Gaines to identify herself as a small business owner, allowing the job title to stand.

Pugno, who authored and served as legal counsel for Proposition 8, is also listed as a small business owner on the ballot. He owns a law firm in Folsom. Regy Bronner, the sole Democrat running in the Republican-leaning district, is listed as a "retired business executive."

RELATED POSTS:

Occupation listings on ballots are high-stakes decisions

Rivals Andy Pugno, Beth Gaines to meet in Sacramento court

Rival sues over Beth Gaines' ballot title of 'small business owner'

PHOTO CREDIT: Beth Gaines speaks to a group of supporters during an April 2011 campaign event at Bass Lake Golf Course in Rescue. Autumn Cruz/The Sacramento Bee.



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