Newsom opponent: I'm not one of those "crazy Republicans"

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California’s massively outnumbered Republicans have settled on state senator Brian Dahle to run against Gavin Newsom in November. While it doesn’t seem as if the Democrats would need to put much effort into defeating him, some are already trying to brand him as being the same as red-state Republicans and supporters of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. It probably says something about the current state of our national politics when Dahle feels compelled to go out on the campaign trail and assure everyone that he’s not one of the “crazy Republicans” that Californians see in the news all of the time. He wants everyone to know that he’s “a reasonable person,” so they should feel free to vote for him. (Associated Press)

Brian Dahle, the Republican Party’s longshot hope to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in California, knows that to win in his progressive home state he can’t allow Democrats to label him as an election denying, abortion-hating, gun-loving, bombastic right-winger.

It’s why Dahle, an affable farmer and state senator from the sparsely populated northeast corner of the state, goes out of his way to make one thing clear: “I’m not a crazy Republican. I’m a reasonable person.”

Whether voters believe he is what he says and not how Democrats portray him will determine how Dahle does against Newsom, a first-term Democrat who is an overwhelming favorite in November.

Newsom’s campaign quickly put out a statement calling Dahle a “Trump Republican.” (He admits that he voted for Trump, but rarely if ever talks about him.) They also said he opposes “abortion rights” and wants to repeal the state’s gun laws. For his part, Dahle isn’t totally denying any of that, but insists that his positions are more “nuanced.”

You might be tempted to think that Gavin Newsome could be in trouble and Brian Dahle could actually stand a chance. But while I’m not going to deny that miracles happen on occasion, you probably shouldn’t be holding your breath. It’s true that Newsom is unpopular and most Californians feel the state is heading in the wrong direction. The voters managed to put Newsom up for a recall vote, but he defeated it rather handily.

Just because California’s liberals may not be all that wild about Newsom these days, that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to turn around and vote in large numbers for a Republican, no matter how moderate he may be. Democrats now outnumber Republicans in California by a two-to-one margin. There are also nearly as many independents as there are registered Republicans, and a majority of them skew to the left.

To his credit, Dahle is hitting all of the right notes in his campaign. He’s out there on the trail talking about inflation, gas prices, and crime. Those are the largest concerns on the minds of most Californians according to nearly every recent poll. So if he was a moderate Democrat, he might have actually stood a chance in November. Unfortunately for Mr. Dahle, he’s a guy with the right message but the wrong letter after his name.

If Californians are as unhappy with the current state of affairs as they say they are, they should be shopping for better options. But from every indication we’re seeing thus far, Newsom will win another term easily. And if the people of California perpetrate the primary definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results), should we really have any sympathy for them? They appear to be prepared to vote for more of the same. If that’s how the state’s voters choose to exercise democracy, we should probably turn to H.L. Mencken for a response. “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”