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Gavin Newsom takes on Brian Dahle and Michael Shellenberger : NPR


Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference at the International Hotel Manilatown Center in San Francisco on March 24, 2021.

Beth LaBerge/KQED


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Beth LaBerge/KQED

Gavin Newsom takes on Brian Dahle and Michael Shellenberger : NPR

Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference at the International Hotel Manilatown Center in San Francisco on March 24, 2021.

Beth LaBerge/KQED

SAN FRANCISCO — In California, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is seeking a second four-year term, less than a year after decisively defeating an effort to recall him from office.

Last September, 62% of California voters voted “No” to the recall, essentially identical to the 62% who voted for Newsom against Republican challenger John Cox in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Like elected officials at every level of the state, Newsom faces headwinds from the pandemic, rising gas prices and inflation, in addition to voter concerns about quality of life issues, including the homelessness and public safety. But Newsom’s campaign ads have remained mostly positive, like one touting his “Courage Through Crisis” where he focused on California’s resilience, with a promise to reflect state values, like diversity protecting the environment and following science.

As part of California’s “top two” primary, the top two in Tuesday’s election will face each other in November, regardless of their political party. Pre-election polls showed Newsom easily overcame any lingering dissatisfaction with his handling of the pandemic and other issues, including the Department of Employment Development’s epic mismanagement of the pandemic-funded unemployment assistance program. federal government, where EDD has paid some $20 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims and scrubbed payments to those in need while investigations take place.

Newsom’s Challengers

His main opponents are Republican Senator Brian Dahle, who represents a large state Senate district that includes all or part of 11 mostly rural counties. He has won the endorsement of the state’s Republican Party and is in line with many of its positions – including opposition to abortion, saying climate change is not the main cause of wildfires in California and blaming voter-approved ballot measures for the recent increase in property crimes. His positions and his campaign slogan, “Restore California,” may appeal to the 24% of voters who are registered as Republicans, but he is unlikely to approach the percentage needed to win in November.

Activist Michael Shellenberger, a former Democrat, has also been extremely critical of what he sees as liberal policy solutions to issues like homelessness and mental illness that don’t work.

As an incumbent in a solidly Democratic state, Newsom also enjoyed a crushing financial advantage over his rivals. Through May, the Newsom for Governor campaign had $23 million in cash, most of which was raised last year when Newsom faced a recall. By comparison, Senator Dahle had just $392,485 in the bank at the end of May, while Shellenberger had a total of $320,114.


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