Who is Brian Dahle? 1-on-1 with the man trying to unseat CA Gov. Gavin Newsom

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ByLiz Kreutz via KGO logo
Thursday, October 13, 2022
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Here's what you need to know about Brian Dahle, the Republican State Senator Brian Dahle running against Governor Gavin Newsom in the Nov. 8 election.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Who is Brian Dahle? You are likely not the only person asking.

A recent poll found that more than 50% of California voters are not familiar with the Republican State Senator challenging Governor Gavin Newsom in his campaign for reelection. This, just four weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

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"It's going to be a tough race no doubt. We're down to the wire," said Sen. Dahle, who represents California's 1st Senate district, in a on-one-one interview with ABC7 News.

Such is life in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one. Dahle, a farmer from Lassen County, recently had his face and name carved into a giant corn maze in Shasta County. He's doing anything he can to increase his name recognition.

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Despite the uphill battle, Dahle believes -- or, at the least, is projecting to believe -- that he has a fighting chance.

"Obviously this is California. It's a very blue state," he said. "We're seeing a lot of independents and Democrats coming to the Republican party. People who are on fixed incomes or hourly wage earners, and Latinos are really moving towards Republicans and just want some balance in California."

Dahle said in the coming weeks he will be increasing his outreach to Latino voters, including releasing a Spanish-language ad later this week.

"We know that Latinos in California are looking for another option and they're looking to Republicans for that. We've seen that in the polls," he said.

What's also been seen in the polls is a bleak outlook for Dahle.

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The recent poll from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies shows him trailing Newsom by 21 points. Among likely voters, 53% said they support Newsom, 32% say they support Dahle and 13% are undecided.

But Dahle -- who called Newsom "an elitist Democrat who is out of touch with California" -- is diligently trying to get out his message, primarily focused on public safety and combating inflation.

Dahle said on his first day in office he would focus on gas prices and energy. He wants to end the gas tax.

"Number one, I want to drive down the cost of energy in California," he said. "That's the fastest way to stop inflation, so I will open up the 1,200 oil wells that are waiting on the desk of Newsom."

On some of the more divisive issues, Dahle said he's pro-life and against Proposition 1, which would enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution.

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"I think it's too extreme," he explained.

He said he does not support the state's plan to ban the sale of gas powered cars by 2035.

"One day Newsom's telling us there's going to be electric cars. The next day he says don't charge your car," he said.

He also does not believe that kids should be taught about multiple gender identities in schools.

"We've taken it to a level that is just bizarre to me," Dahle said.

These positions are all in stark contrast to Governor Newsom. Yet instead of challenging Dahle on these issues, in recent months, Newsom has been targeting Republicans from other states. And at times it's felt more like Newsom is running against Governor DeSantis in Florida, than reelection in California.

"Well, he doesn't want to talk about what's happening in California. He thinks he's just going to walk into this," Dahle said. "He's running for president. There's no doubt about it. I'm focused on California."

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Newsom has denied he's running for president. He recently told reporters he isn't taking his commanding lead in the governor's race for granted. He pointed to his climate initiatives, the recent launch of Care Court and the inflation relief checks that are being sent out starting this month.

"I take nothing for granted," Newsom said. "I've been all over the state of California. We're focused on the issues that people care about."

Newsom and Dahle have agreed to just one debate. It will be on public radio -- KQED -- at 1 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 23. And even that is a sign of how noncompetitive the race is. The debate will compete with NFL football games and MLB playoffs.

Still, Dahle says he's eager to go toe-to-toe with the Governor -- whether or not many voters hear it.

"We've had one party control for so long that you can't blame a Republican for anything that's wrong in California," he said. "The big question is: do Californians feel like they're going to be better off four years from now actually with Gavin Newsom...or do they want to try giving a Republican a try?"

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