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Republican wades into California gubernatorial race

California state Senator Brian Dahle called his bid to take on incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom a true "David and Goliath" affair.

(CN) — California state Senator Brian Dahle launched a bid for governor Tuesday, becoming the first from the state’s minority party to officially challenge incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom in the November 2022 election.  

Dahle, who represents 11 mostly rural counties in the extreme northern part of the state, said his lack of name recognition and late entry into the race won’t prevent him from mounting a real challenge to Newsom. Dahle kicked off his campaign by targeting his Democratic opponent with a steady stream of familiar GOP rhetoric, casting Newsom as a “dictator” and “elitist liberal”.   

“I’m not some smooth-talking wine salesman from San Francisco,” Dahle said. “I am a farmer from Bieber; you might say I’m the underdog.”

Elected to the state Assembly in 2012, Dahle moved to the state Senate after winning a special election in 2019. Prior to the Legislature, Dahle, 56, served on the Lassen County Board of Supervisors for nearly two decades. On his legislative website, Dahle claims to have “worked across party lines” to spur job creation and fight for farmers’ water rights.

In a short debut campaign speech from an outdoor auditorium in Redding, Dahle didn’t give much of political platform. Instead, the farmer and small business owner lobbed personal insults and placed blame for the state’s myriad issues on Newsom and other state Democrats.

Dahle, whose wife Megan was recently elected to the Assembly, said the state continues to suffer extreme homelessness, crime and spiking costs of living due to Democrats’ longstanding stranglehold over California politics.

“For over 25 years I’ve witnessed elitist liberals doing everything in their power to wreck California,” said Dahle. “We’ve seen one-party rule with the minority completely shut out.”

Dahle has his work cut out for him: California voters haven't elected a Republican governor since Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger won a second term in 2006 and Democrats have had a supermajority in the statehouse since 2018. In terms of voter registration, Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one in the Golden State.

Wary of Newsom’s popularity after nearly 62% of Californians voted to keep him in office during last year’s recall election, both Republicans and Democrats have shied from entering the 2022 gubernatorial race.

While the Republicans who sought to replace Newsom last September, such as radio talk show host Larry Elder and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, have remained on the sidelines in 2022, Newsom has continued to pad his war chest and poll numbers.

Still months from the June primary, Newsom has an estimated $25 million in his reelection account. Meanwhile, a recent poll pegged the incumbent’s approval ratings at 56%.  

To survive the upcoming primary and advance to the November runoff, Dahle said the campaign’s goal is to amass 200,000 small donors in the coming weeks.

“I can’t stand aside and watch the corrupt one-party rule continue to poison the future of our state,” Dahle said.

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