The political season is starting much earlier in the Golden State than we’re used to because California wants to weigh in on the presidential primaries when it still matters.
California has traditionally held its primary in June in presidential election years, which usually meant the nominees for both parties had been decided by the time we voted. To make sure we get to weigh in before places like Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada decide the issue, California will hold its primary in March this year.
That means it’s time for candidate forums, and the Nevada County League of Women Voters will hold five of them at the Rood Center on consecutive Thursdays beginning this week with the 1st state Assemby district race.
Just don’t expect to see our Republican state senator, state assemblywoman, and congressman at any of them.
Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt and independent Paul Dahnuka are expected to attend Thursday’s forum for the assembly race, but Republican incumbent Megan Dahle won’t attend because of a “scheduling conflict,” according to LWV officials.
Dahle has yet to make a public appearance in Nevada County since declaring her candidacy for her husband’s assembly seat and then winning it in a runoff last November. A LWV forum scheduled for last October had to be cancelled because of a PG&E blackout and was never rescheduled.
After Dahle defeated Betancourt 58% to 42% but lost Nevada County be eight points, she promised to spend more time here. “Nevada County is probably the one county we’ve not been able to spend a lot of time in, but we’re looking forward to changing that,” she said after winning last November. “I think that’s just one of the places that going to get to know me better.”
Maybe she’ll show up at the fall forum before the general election so that her constituents can actually see and hear her. Dahle may also make it down here for a Republican women’s luncheon or maybe even the Nevada County Republican Party’s annual dinner, assuming they can find some place in the county to hold it this year. Those don’t count as public appearances, if you’re keeping score.
Her husband, Brian, who managed to avoid the county when he was seeking the state Senate seat he now holds, has not committed to attend the Feb. 6 forum for his office so I’m guessing he won’t make it.
Meanwhile, Rep. Doug LaMalfa said he’s not attending any forums in the lst Congressional district in the run-up to the primary. That makes sense since he has no Republican challenger in the primary, but he didn’t attend any of the forums in Nevada County when he ran for reelection two years ago either.
LaMalfa may be reluctant to make public appearances in the county because he lost in Nevada and Butte counties two years ago, and received a less than cordial reception the last time he held a constituents meeting here.
None of these Republicans need to win Nevada County to retain their seats in their heavily Republican districts so it’s easy for them to blow us off, but that may change when redistricting takes place in time for the 2022 election. Current census projections show California is likely to lose one seat in the House, and it could very well be a Republican seat.
State Assembly and Senate districts will also be redrawn, and Nevada County may end up in more liberal districts than it occupies now. In the meantime, you better get on the Republican mailing list if you want to hear from your local representatives.