SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Brian Dahle, the GOP’s longshot hope of unseating Gov. Gavin Newsom in California, knows that to win his progressive home state he can’t let Democrats label it an election who denies abortion. Right wing hater, gun lover and bombastic.
That’s why Dahle, an affable farmer and state senator from the sparsely populated northeast corner of the state, goes to great lengths to make one thing clear: “I’m not some crazy Republican. I am a reasonable person.
Whether voters believe he is what he says and not how Democrats represent him will determine how Dahle fares against Newsom, a first-term Democrat who is a heavy favorite in November.
Republicans haven’t won office statewide in California since 2006 because their candidates are generally poorly known, underfunded and identified, rightly or wrongly, as strong social conservatives in a state that is socially liberal. The GOP has seen its share of registered voters decline to the point where Democrats now hold a roughly 2-to-1 lead and there are almost as many independents as Republicans.
Under California’s primary system, all candidates compete against each other and the two with the most votes advance to the general election. Newsom won last month with 56%, while Dahle received just 17% in a field of more than two dozen candidates.
With Dahle locked in as his opponent, Newsom’s campaign moved quickly to identify him as the antithesis of what most Californians want.
“Dahle is a Trump Republican who wants to abolish abortion rights, repeal California gun safety laws and is looking for any shred of relevance after being absolutely crushed by Governor Newsom in (the) primary vote,” Nathan said. Click, a spokesperson for the Newsom campaign.
Dahle acknowledges having voted for Trump, calls himself “pro-life” and says he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. But he says his record is more nuanced than Newsom’s campaign claims.
While he voted for Trump, he did not publicly amplify Trump’s lie that he was the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election. He voted against a proposal to make abortion a constitutional right in California, but opposed his party. and voted for a 2021 bill that would have made birth control, including the morning-after pill, much cheaper.
On guns, Dahle voted against a Newsom-backed bill to allow private citizens sue people who sell illegal firearms and a bill that ban the sale of weapons to children. Dahle’s office had no comment on a new bill aimed at limit where people can carry concealed firearmsa response to the US Supreme Court last month that struck down the state law.
Wants to make stealing a gun a felony, supports improvements for gang members and other formerly incarcerated people who commit new crimes with guns. and voted for an invoice to strengthen a unique program in California that confiscates guns from convicted felons who aren’t supposed to have them.
His plan to beat Newsom is to focus on what he believes are the real issues people are concerned about — record gas prices, rising crime and the high cost of living in the state — while playing Newsom, a man millionaire businessman and former mayor of San Francisco, as an out-of-touch elitist.
“The facts are that (Newsom) is a failure. Show me something you’re succeeding at. And that’s what we’re going to talk about,” Dahle said.
As governor, Dahle said he would push for the suspension of the state gas tax, which at 53.9 cents a gallon is the second highest in the country. He says he would eliminate Newsom’s appointments to the state Parole Board, which he says often lets “violent offenders out before their sentences are up.”
And Dahle said he would push for hundreds of new permits for oil and gas drilling in the state at a time when California regulators are working on Newsom’s plan to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and lawn equipment. .
Newsom won in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote. He defeated a retirement last year by roughly the same margin. He has $23 million in his campaign account and a record state budget surplus of nearly $100 billion, about $9.5 billion of which will be returned to most taxpayers in rebates to help offset high gas prices.
Dahle has just under $400,000 in his campaign account. She is asking her supporters to donate $1 a day to her campaign. She needs about 200,000 people to do this to catch up with Newsom’s fundraiser, which is not likely to happen.
“The key to his success would be attracting the necessary media attention to define himself beyond the party label,” said Rob Nehring, former chairman of the California Republican Party and 2014 Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. it’s just a party preference vote, even in a strong Republican year, it’s likely to fall short.”
Dahle grew up in Bieber, a small community of a few hundred people in the northeast corner of the state. Her grandfather, a World War I veteran, came to California during the Great Depression and obtained a land grant in Siskiyou County that, according to family legend, he won when his name was pulled out of a mason jar. pickles. The deed is signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dahle said.
Dahle did not go to college. He tried to get out of high school, but quickly lost money. To pay off his creditors, he packed a lunch and stood outside a sawmill every morning for three days until the owner hired him. He worked in construction for a few years, including some long hours in a gold mine, before starting a seed business that he still owns.
He won his first race for the Lassen County Board of Supervisors by beating a popular teacher from the town of Susanville, where most voters lived. He won a seat in the state Assembly by beating Rick Bossetti, a former professional baseball player and mayor of Redding, the region’s largest city with about 90,000 people.
And he was elected to the state Senate by beating Kevin Kiley, a fellow Republican in the Assembly who lived in a much more populated area.
“He did the things you have to do and surprised his opponents,” said Jim Chapman, a Democrat-turned-independent who served on the Dahle board of supervisors. “He has a very charismatic demeanor and from the moment I met him I knew this guy was going to get somewhere.”
Government life seems to suit Dahle and his family. He proposed to his wife, Megan, during a supervisors’ meeting. Now, Megan is a Republican in the state Assembly. They’re like most married couples, except when they disagree, it can be part of a public record.
“I just make fun of him and say, well, he was probably wrong,” Megan Dahle said of the times they voted differently on legislation. “He is a farmer, so he works hard and has great relationships with people. They can trust him.
When he arrived in Sacramento, Dahle endeared himself to his legislative colleagues from both parties by organizing tours of his district, which includes picturesque farmland in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada. In 2016, she worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to pass a law aimed at preventing patients from receiving surprise bills from health care providers outside their insurance network.
Last year’s recall election essentially cleared the field for Republicans this year, as neither major candidate chose to challenge Newsom again. That created an opportunity for Dahle, who will leave the Senate in 2024. He realizes his success rests on sudden political change in a state that has been moving further to the left with each election.
“I’ve seen the pendulum swing, and when it swings, it swings rapidly,” Dahle said. “So my message is, ‘Hey, do you want what you’ve been getting? How about you try something different?’”
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