Voters in the first state Senate district have less than 2 weeks to decide who they want to represent them in Sacramento, but don’t expect to see either one of the candidates before you cast your vote.
Brian Dahle, who represents Nevada County in the state Assembly, has avoided making any public appearances in the county since declaring his candidacy to replace former Senator Ted Gaines. His opponent, fellow Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, is also missing in action.
If you’re a Republican and attended the local party’s annual dinner in PLACER County Saturday night, you were able to meet and hear Kiley speak–Dahle said he had an engagement elsewhere in Placer County. As you would expect from Republicans, you had to pay $40 to meet him at the VIP reception or $85 to have dinner with Kiley, who apparently devoted his speech to blasting Dahle.
So much for Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment!
The candidates remind me of Republican Sharron Angle’s run against Senator Harry Reid in 2010. Angle disappeared during the last two weeks of the campaign, making unannounced private–almost secret–visits with small groups and avoiding the media whenever possible.
Our problem is that both candidates are acting this way, apparently deciding to avoid the media and public while running their campaigns through mailers and social media, where they have total control of the message.
Except, of course, when they screw up. Dahle, apparently courting the county fair crowd, professed on his Facebook page to be a fan of all county fairs in his district. He held up signs expressing love for all of them–except the 1 in Nevada County. Jeff “Podunk” Pelline says he called Dahle on it and, based on Jeffy’s reporting, clumsily tried to lie his way out of the gaff. This is the kind of representation we need in Sacramento?
Newspapers in the district, which have been hollowed out by years of cutbacks, are devoting little energy to holding the candidates accountable. There has been practically no coverage since the primary, when they were forced to surface if for no other reason than to distinguish themselves from the other candidates. I’m sure we’ll see straight-down-the-middle profiles of each before election day, but most of the people who care in Nevada County will have voted by then.
Each candidate seems content to add to his endless list of endorsements–most of them people you never heard of–while standing 4-square for the local motherhood issues: Low taxes, good schools, stop wildfires, etc., etc.
Kiley claims he started the campaign with a $500,000 war chest and has been spending it on mailers trying to woo Nevada County Republicans. Meanwhile, Dahle is reaching out to people in the Democratic Party. My wife received a letter recently from a couple who claimed they lost their home in the Paradise fire, asking her to support Dahle against PG&E and other special interests. The letter contained a Paradise street address. Maybe their mail box survived the fire.
Then we received a mailer claiming Kiley has taken $500,000 from PG&E and other special interests, apparently accounting for his campaign war chest. The mailer also lists 5 instances where Dahle “held PG&E accountable for wildfires” while Kiley (of course) didn’t. The flyer doesn’t mention Dahle’s participation in crafting legislation that will let the utility offload some of its liabilities on rate payers, a major issue now that state officials have formally blamed PG&E for starting the Camp Fire.
Each claims to be the most conservative candidate while bashing special interests that traditionally support Republican candidates. A review of past campaign contributions shows that both–particularly Dahle–have accepted plenty of money from special interests.
As for me, I’ve already thrown out my ballot. Since I can find out little or nothing about Kiley (his campaign web site is no help), I’m essentially flying blind if I vote. It doesn’t matter who wins anyway because he’ll be a member of a super minority in the senate.
But who knows: Maybe the winner will start appearing at public forums when he has to run again in 2020.