2022 California Governor Election: Gavin Newsom, Brian Dahle

Governor Gavin Newsom took a big step towards re-election on Tuesday after crushing a crowded field of barely known challengers in the California state primary, and will face a conservative Republican from Northern California, the senator from State Brian Dahle.

The Associated Press predicted the 55-year-old Democratic governor will easily move through the Nov. 8 election and a two-way race where he will be heavily favored over 56-year-old Dahle.

Newsom’s dominance comes nearly nine months after he easily crushed a Republican-led recall attempt. The one-two punch showed how formidable he remains in California politics even after a first term in which he was tested by the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, six of the greatest wildfires in state history and an ever-worsening homelessness crisis.

Newsom decided to forgo a traditional election night, opting instead to respond to the news of his victory on Twitter, the virtual bulletin board of modern politics.

“Across the country, Republicans are attacking our basic rights as Americans. Destroying democracy, denying a woman the right to choose, and standing idly by while gun violence claims far too many lives,” the governor said. . “[California] is the antidote — to lead with compassion, common sense and science. Cherish diversity, defend democracy and protect our planet.

“Name one thing that works really well in California, other than our good weather,” Sen. Brian Dahle, pictured at his Lassen County farm, said in an interview Tuesday night.

(Phil Willon/Los Angeles Times)

As predicted by a poll released last week by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies and co-sponsored by The Times, Newsom’s closest challenger was Dahle, a Republican from Northern California who has never stood featured in a statewide position. The poll showed half of likely voters backed Newsom’s re-election bid, compared to 10% who backed Dahle.

Dahle, a grain farmer from the small town of Bieber, Lassen County, knows defeating Newsom will take a Herculean effort. However, he has said in recent weeks that he believes Californians yearn for political change after seeing what Newsom and decades of Democratic leadership in the state have brought. He blamed the state’s ongoing struggles with crime, homelessness and the high cost of living on the policies adopted by Newsom.

“I just think Gavin Newsom is out of touch with reality,” Dahle said in an interview Tuesday night. “We’ve had 25 years of one-party control, and where does that get us? Name one thing that works really well in California, other than our great weather.

Primary voter turnout was expected to be low statewide, likely due to the lack of suspense and voter interest in California’s early statewide races for the Governor and the US Senate. Democratic Senator Alex Padilla, who was nominated by Newsom just over two years ago, is expected to make it through November’s election, although it will be the first time he has stood before voters for the coveted post.

Newsom had little incentive to tangle with his challengers in the months leading up to the primary. Aside from political ads that criticized Dahle for his opposition to abortion rights and accused him of being a loyalist to former President Trump, Newsom’s campaign barely surfaced. He also still sits atop a re-election fund of about $23 million, while his 25 challengers had just over $1 million combined at the end of last month.

Even on Election Day, Newsom opted to skip the campaign trail — a telling indication that he wasn’t sweating the primary. Instead, he was preparing for the Summit of the Americas, where he will host President Biden and other world leaders in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Nearly two weeks ago, the governor announced he had contracted the coronavirus, although a spokesperson last week said Newsom’s follow-up tests were negative.

When Newsom crushed the recall election in September, he essentially cemented his reelection, said Cal State Fullerton political scientist Sarah Hill.

Republican recall supporters and GOP candidates hoping to replace him have attacked Newsom for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the homelessness crisis, rising violent crime and the astronomical cost of housing.

But their efforts were far from sufficient, with almost 63% of voters voting opting to keep Newsom in office.

“If he were to go down, if he was as unpopular as some had hoped, the encore was going to show it. But he very clearly dominated the encore and came back strong,” Hill said. “I think it just scared anyone who might oppose him.”

None of the top Republicans who ran to replace Newsom in the recall election challenged his bid for a second term. Among those who took a pass were conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who led the field of recall replacement candidates, and former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, formerly considered the California Republican Party’s best hope for defeating Newsom.

The Democratic governor has already announced his intention to use the same political strategy that proved so effective in the recall election, when he described the campaign to oust him as a ‘life or death’ battle. against trumpism and far-right activists who oppose COVID-19. vaccinations and want to cancel the right to abortion.

Newsom seized on Dahle’s opposition to abortion rights in a campaign ad released just days after the leak last month of a proposed U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would strike down abortion rights. abortion protected by Roe against Wade. After a shooting two weeks ago at a Texas elementary school left 19 children and two adults dead, the governor also slammed Republicans for stifling gun control efforts, saying the party “will do nothing” to protect Americans from gun violence.

Dahle said he fully expects the Newsom campaign to portray him as a far-right ‘crazy guy’ and that one of his biggest challenges will be raising enough money to extinguish the sparks being generated. by what he said was a political smear campaign. while letting voters know what he really stands for.

Upstart independent candidate Michael Shellenberger amplified the same criticism of the governor, saying Newsom was more interested in running for president one day than in curing the many ills that Shellenberger says are destroying the quality of life of Californians. The Berkeley-based activist described Newsom and the state’s big-city progressives as exacerbating the homelessness crisis and sowing the seeds for an increase in violent crime.

However, with no major political party backing him, Shellenberger struggled to gain ground in the primary, as did the two dozen other unheralded challengers. Nor was history on their side, as no California governor has lost a re-election race since 1942.

Los Angeles Times

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