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California Republicans send latest sacrifice to Gavin Newsom


California Republicans send latest sacrifice to Gavin Newsom

After clearing out the California primary and Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Sen. Brian Dahle is now the latest Republican sent to the altar of figurative sacrifice: a statewide general election contest in deep-blue California against a Democratic incumbent.

Unofficial primary results show Newsom and Dahle garnered more votes than any of the other 24 gubernatorial candidates in Tuesday’s election, meaning they will go head-to-head in November. As of 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, Newsom had 61% of the vote, while Dahle had 15%.

Tuesday’s results mean Newsom is almost certain to win re-election in November. True, 2022 is expected to be a breakout year for Republicans, but this is still California, a liberal stronghold where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Additionally, there is precedent for California Democrats prevailing in statewide elections even when national political winds favor Republicans.

In 2010, Democratic candidate Jerry Brown more than survived that year’s national “red wave,” defeating Republican Meg Whitman by nearly 13 percentage points. California has only gotten bluer in the 12 years since then.

The only thing that seems likely to jeopardize Newsom’s re-election chances would be a scandal (or scandals) in the coming months. And we’re not talking about a French Laundry-type scandal; we’re talking about a momentous scandal that this man should never hold public office in his life again. That’s how safe Newsom is against a Republican.

Things could have been different if independent candidate Michael Shellenberger had passed the primary. Some analysts thought the popular Berkeley author had at least some chance of unseating Newsom in November, but he finished with just 3% of the vote Tuesday night.

Newsom and his team thought a primary win by Dahle, a farmer and small business owner from Bieber, would give the governor the best chance of securing a second term. In an announcement published last month, which came two days after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion showed the body plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, Newsom aimed at Dahle for his stance on abortion.

“With reproductive freedom under attack, who can California women count on to stand up for our rights?” says the ad’s narrator. “GOP-backed Senator Brian Dahle supports Donald Trump. Dahle wants to roll back abortion rights by punishing women and doctors.”

The announcement was a clear attempt by Newsom to boost Dahle’s name recognition among voters to help him clear the crowded primary field. In his statewide race, a group supporting Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta did something similar.

It wasn’t clear whether Newsom’s tactics would help him get the result he wanted, but Tuesday’s results show he probably did. Regardless of how Dahle finished second in this year’s primary, Newsom is now up for re-election in November.

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