Gavin Newsom and Brian Dahle debate in California governor’s race

Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Senator Brian Dahle clashed over gas prices, homelessness and abortion rights during the only debate between the two gubernatorial candidates in an otherwise sleepy race for the most powerful post in the state of California.

Newsom is expected to win a second term in November’s election against the Republican farmer from rural Northern California, who on Sunday criticized the governor for focusing more on his national ambitions than solving the state’s problems.

“The governor is focused on his message to America,” Dahle said. “Californiaans flee California for one reason — because they can’t afford to live here — and he’s out of touch with everyday, hard-working, middle-class Californians.”

The match-up, hosted by KQED on a sunny day in San Francisco, was one of the few times Newsom has acknowledged his opponent’s existence since the competition began. In the sometimes heated debate, Newsom dumped Senator Bieber as a Trump Republican misaligned with California voters.

“I was out of state for a few hours to take on his party and his party leader, Donald Trump, whom he passionately supports,” Newsom said. “I’ve had enough. So I’ll stand up proud and happy. What you’re not doing is standing up to Big Oil and those big interests.”

From the day he launched his campaign earlier this year, Dahle has been an underdog by definition. He’s far behind Newsom in fundraising, name exposure and polling of likely voters.

While Newsom easily draws media attention as governor of the nation’s most populous state, Dahle has found it more difficult to break through with limited campaign funds and get his message across to Californians.

And Newsom hasn’t made it any easier for Dahle by largely ignoring the race in his home state.

Newsom has not run a single ad to promote his gubernatorial reelection campaign since the June primary. Meanwhile, he paid billboards in conservative states to promote California’s abortion rights and ran ads in Florida criticizing the state’s GOP leaders.

“All he has to do is do what it takes to win, and he’s using his resources to build potential for other future endeavors nationally,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican policy adviser.

Listless competition at the top of the ticket could stifle turnout and have negative consequences for down ballot races, including California convention contests that could determine the balance of power in Washington.

To encourage voter turnout among Democrats, Newsom has turned his attention to Proposition 1, which would tighten California’s already strong abortion protections. The Democrat-controlled state Legislature put the measure on the November vote in response to the US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The party hopes asking voters to speak out on reproductive rights could inspire Democrats to cast their ballots.

The pro-abortion rights governor has spent at least $2 million of his own campaign funds to air ads in support of Prop. 1. Dahle gave $20,000 to the opposition campaign.

“He doesn’t support reproductive freedom, he doesn’t support reproductive choice, unrelated to rape, unrelated to incest,” Newsom said of Dahle.

Newsom was a proponent of reproductive freedom, beckoning women from other states with more restrictive policies to travel to California for abortion services. The state budget passed in June included $200 million in new spending on reproductive health services and outreach.

Dahle said he was anti-abortion and criticized the governor’s efforts to pay for abortion services for out-of-state residents “at the expense of California taxpayers.”

Dahle also blamed Newsom for worsening California’s homeless crisis.

The governor boldly announced in early 2020 that homelessness was solvable and vowed to use all his government’s strength to solve the problem. But many cities and counties across the state had more homeless people this year than before the pandemic began.

“The governor is focused on running for president and he’s going to leave California just like he left San Francisco with homeless people across the street when he said he was going to solve these problems,” Dahle said.

Newsom took a more conservative approach to homelessness this year with CARE Court, a program he championed to provide care for an estimated 7,000 to 12,000 Californians affected by homelessness and suffering from serious mental illness.

Dahle has previously called for a crackdown on homeless camps and greater incentives for drug users and the mentally ill to seek treatment if housing is made available to them. On Sunday, he said he would declare a state of emergency to address fentanyl, provide more funding for counties’ mental health and try to reduce housing costs.

He has also said he will explore homelessness programs while promoting rehabilitation and mental health services, including those provided by nonprofit and religious organizations. He advocates building more emergency shelters, accelerating construction of affordable housing, and imposing fewer building restrictions under the landmark California Environmental Quality Act.

“His entire policy on homelessness is an illusory policy of ‘well, let’s just do an exam,'” Newsom said. “I’ve been around long enough to know that if someone says their answer to a problem is a test, they don’t have an answer.”

Sunday’s forum for debate resembled Newsom’s 2018 sparring with his campaign opponent John Cox, when the two went head-to-head on a federal holiday in a radio-only format that lacked television cameras and the prime-time audience typical of such high-profile audiences. profile race.

This time, KQED offered live video and radio streams of the forum and planned to broadcast the debate on KQED public television that evening.

The timing made Sunday’s debate compete with the National Football League for attention.

“This isn’t exactly the Super Bowl of gubernatorial elections,” said Robin Swanson, a Democrat policy adviser. “It’s not an even matchup. So I’m not expecting a large crowd.”

Stutzman, the GOP’s political adviser, said it was clear the governor’s team was “hiding behind” the lineup of football games. In comparison, television stations across California would have held the debate on a weekday to carry it on the evening prime-time news.

Though Newsom is favored to win, he also has more to lose than Dahle, Stutzman said.

“That’s why frontrunners never want a debate, and a lot of them don’t want that either,” he said.

The two candidates ended the debate amicably after Dahle noted he had 127 MPs — Democrats and Republicans — in his district. Newsom, he said, never took up his offer to come fishing.

“I believe in working together and getting things done with people and listening more and understanding that there are two sides to every story and when you find out the other side you can have more compassion, you can understand, you can learn from it,” said dahle

Newsom promised to work with Dahle, “hopefully in your respective roles as a senator if I succeed in continuing that role as governor of California.” Gavin Newsom and Brian Dahle debate in California governor’s race

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