Newsom’s opponent: I’m right, not a ‘crazy Republican’

Brian Dahle, the longtime Republican target hoping to oust Governor Gavin Newsom of California, knows that to win his progressive home state, he cannot allow Democrats to label he’s a voter-denial, abortion-hating, gun-loving, pompous. -Boatman.

That’s why Dahle, a likable farmer and state senator from the sparsely populated northeast corner of the state, tries to make one thing clear: “I’m not a crazy Republican. I am a reasonable person.”

Voters believe he’s what he says he is, and not how Democrats portray him, will determine how Dahle goes against Newsom, a popular first-term Democrat this year. November.

Republicans have not won a statewide office in California since 2006 because their candidates are often poorly known, poorly funded, and identified – rightly or wrongly – as conservatives. strong social defender in a socially liberal state. The GOP has seen its share of registered voters drop to a level where Democrats now have an almost 2-to-1 advantage and have nearly as many independents as Republicans.

Under California’s preliminary system, all candidates compete against each other and the two candidates with the most votes advance to the general election. Newsom won last month with 56%, while Dahle got just 17% in a field of more than two dozen candidates.

With Dahle locked in as their opponent, Newsom’s campaign quickly identified him as the antithesis of what most Californians want.

“Dahle is a Trump Republican who wants to repeal abortion rights, repeal California’s gun safety laws and is looking for any piece of relevance after being completely crushed by Governor Newsom in the ( vote) primaries,” said Newsom campaign spokesman Nathan Click.

Dahle admitted to voting for Trump, calling himself “pro-life” and saying he was a strong defender of the Second Amendment. But he says his record is more nuanced than Newsom’s campaign claims.

While voting for Trump, he did not publicly amplify Trump’s lie that he was the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election. He voted against the proposal to bring abortion back. constitutional right in California but went against his party and voted on a 2021 bill that would make birth control methods – including the morning pill – much cheaper.

On guns, Dahle voted against a Newsom-backed bill that would allow private citizens to sue illegal gun sellers and a bill that would ban the marketing of guns to children. Dahle’s office would not comment on a new bill to limit where people can carry concealed weapons, a response to the US Supreme Court last month that overturned the state law.

He wants to make gun theft a felony, providing improved support for gang members and others jailed for new gun crimes. And he voted for a bill that would strengthen a unique California program to confiscate firearms from felony convicts who aren’t supposed to have them.

His plan to beat Newsom is to focus on what he thinks are the real issues people care about – record gas prices, rising crime and the state’s high cost of living – in in portraying Newsom, a millionaire businessman and former mayor of San Francisco, as a lost elitist.

“The truth is (Newsom) is a failure. Show me something he is succeeding in. And that’s what we’re going to talk about,” said Dahle.

As governor, Dahle said he would push for a suspension of the state’s gas tax, at 53.9 cents per gallon, the second-highest in the country. He said he would eliminate Newsom’s appointments to the state Parole Board, which he said often lets “violent criminals out before their sentences are finished.” .”

And Dahle said he will pass hundreds of new permits for oil and gas drilling in the state at a time when California regulators are working with Newsom on a plan to ban the sale of gas-powered cars and planting equipment. new grass.

Newsom won in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote. He beat a recall last year by the same margin. He has $23 million in his campaign account and a record state budget surplus of nearly $100 billion, of which about $9.5 billion will be returned to most taxpayers in the form of discounts to help offset high gas prices.

Dahle has just under $400,000 in his campaign account. He is asking supporters to donate $1 a day to his campaign. He needs about 200,000 people doing this to keep up with Newsom’s fundraising – which is unlikely to happen.

“The key to his success will be garnering media attention to claim his position,” said Rob Nehring, former California Republican chairman and 2014 Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. define themselves beyond the party’s vision. “If this is just a partisan preference vote even in a strong Republican year, he is likely to cut short.”

Dahle grew up in Bieber, a small community of a few hundred people in the northeastern corner of the state. His grandfather, a World War I veteran, came to California during the Great Depression and received a land grant in Siskiyou County that, according to family legend, he won when his name drawn from a jar of pickles. The deed was signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dahle said.

Dahle didn’t go to college. He tried farming when he was in high school, but quickly lost money. To pay his creditor, he prepared a lunch and stood outside a lumberyard for three days until the owner hired him. He worked in construction for several years, including some long hours in a gold mine, before starting a seed business, which he still owns.

He won his first race for the Lassen County Board of Supervisors by defeating a popular schoolteacher from the town of Susanville, where most of the voters live. He won a seat on the State Council by defeating Rick Bossetti, a former professional baseball player and mayor of Redding, the largest city in the region with about 90,000 inhabitants.

And he was elected to the state Senate defeating Kevin Kiley, a Republican in Congress who lives in a much more populous area.

“He did what you needed to do and took his opponents by surprise,” said Jim Chapman, an independent Democrat who served on the oversight board with Dahle. “He has a very charismatic demeanor and right away, from the moment I met him, I knew this guy was going somewhere.”

Government life seemed to suit Dahle and his family. He proposed to his wife, Megan, during a meeting of supervisors. Now, Megan is a Republican in the state Congress. They are like most married couples, except when they disagree, it can be part of the public record.

“I just teased him and told him, maybe he was wrong,” Megan Dahle said of the times they voted differently on the law. “He is a farmer, so he works hard and he has a great relationship with people. They can trust him.”

Upon arriving in Sacramento, Dahle endeared his bipartisan legislative colleagues by organizing tours of his district, including the picturesque farmland in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada. In 2016, he worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to pass a law to prevent patients from receiving unexpected bills from health care providers outside of the insurance network. their danger.

Last year’s recall election essentially wiped out the Republican field this year, as none of the top candidates chose to challenge Newsom again. That opened the door for Dahle, who will be terminated from the Senate in 2024. He realizes his success depends on a sudden political reversal in a more moving state of affairs. after each election.

“I’ve seen the pendulum swing, and when it wobbles, it wobbles quickly,” Dahle said. “So my message was, ‘Hey, do you want what you’re getting? How about trying something different? ‘”

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