SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A little-known Republican lawmaker from rural northern California on Tuesday announced an unlikely campaign to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, just months after Newsom hosted a recall election that wanted to remove him from office defeated ease.
Senator Brian Dahle, who represents a sprawling district stretching from Sacramento County to the Oregon border, blamed Newsom for an unrestrained homeless crisis, rising crime rates, high taxes and a declining quality of life. But he also recognized the odds against him in the heavily democratic state, calling it a “David vs. Goliath” confrontation.
And in another nod to the challenges of running an underdog campaign against a nationally known incumbent, he asked supporters to contribute just $1 a day to his efforts.
“If you get four more years from this dictator, it’s going to cost you a lot more,” he said, referring to the governor. “It’s time for a change.”
Dahle’s entry into the race underscores the anemic state of the state’s long-suffering Republican Party, which accounts for just 24% of California voters versus 46% for Democrats. With Newsom just clinching his win at the September recall and sitting on a multimillion-dollar campaign bankroll, Republicans have so far been unable to attract a prominent candidate to challenge him — and it seems unlikely that will be the case.
Because the party’s ranks were exhausted, Republicans were unable to land candidates in the November runoff in the last two US Senate elections in the state, in which only two Democrats stood at the fall election.
Still, Republicans are hoping voter unrest this year over rising homelessness, a spate of thefts at luxury stores, and high rent and housing costs could prompt a backlash against Democratic candidates.
In Sacramento, “we’ve seen one-party rule where the minority is completely excluded,” Dahle said. “One-party rule leads to what it always leads to, corruption and government dysfunction.”
In a statement, Newsom campaign spokesman Dan Newman referenced the recall election, saying: “Like last year, a pack of pro (former President Donald) Trump Republicans will try to stall the governor’s advances. … Just like last year, the governor will focus on solutions.”
The campaign poses little risk for Dahle, who represents a largely rural, conservative northeast corner of the state far from the liberal power centers of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. He is not on the ballot in this year’s election and cannot stand for re-election in 2024 due to term limits.
But his candidacy gives Republicans a chance to have someone at the head of the ticket against Newsom in a year when Republicans hope to regain control of Congress and host a series of competitive house races across the state.
Dahle, a farmer, served on Lassen County’s board of directors for 16 years before being elected to the state assembly in 2012. He was elected to the State Senate in 2019. Megan Dahle replaced her husband in the congregation. The couple lives in Bieber, where they have two sons and a daughter.
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