The 2014 California First District Assembly race between Republican incumbent Brian Dahle and Democrat Brigham Smith may be one of the least competitive races on this year’s election ballot.
Dahle has a sizable advantage over Smith in campaign contributions, experience and voting demographics — Smith said he knows he is beat.
“It’s really a very solid Republican area,” Smith said. “So the chances of victory in this, regardless how hard I campaign, would be slim to none.”
The district encompasses the state’s northeastern region, which includes Nevada, Butte, Lassen, Placer, Siskiyou, Plumas, Modoc, Shasta and Sierra counties.
With a background in farming, Dahle became an assembly member in November 2012 after beating fellow Republican Rick Bosetti with 65.6 percent of the district’s vote. Dahle said he is running for his first re-election bid this year with a unique perspective as a farmer and businessman.
“I’m trying to take that perspective to the state Capitol to make California a better place,” Dahle said. “We have a lot of debt, we have high unemployment, so I’m trying to educate other members on ways that we could make California a better place and make it a stronger state. We’re number nine when it comes to economies in the world, and we used to be number six, and I’d like to be back to number six.”
At the age of 21, Smith, a student at the College of the Siskiyous, has no experience in public service or politics, and says he decided to run for the experience after his father was asked to run by the Democratic party but declined.
“My dad is too busy; he takes care of my uncle, who has severe Down syndrome and end-stage renal disease,” Smith said,
“Instead I was offered this chance, and I decided to take them up on it kind of as a favor to the Democratic party of California.”
Smith points out that there are key differences between himself and Dahle that voters should consider.
“Economically, I don’t believe we share the same beliefs,” Smith said. “Where Brian Dahle is kind of stand pat in regards to extremely limited government interference in the marketplace, I would support or believe in much heavier market regulation in an effort to make sure that large corporations cannot get out of hand as they are, and have, so far.”
Dahle points out that Smith’s lack of public service separates the two candidates.
“I honestly haven’t met him or debated him, so it’s been a little difficult to really know what he’s about,” Dahle said.
“But I think for me, my experience as a local legislator for 16 years on the board of supervisors up in Lassen County and the past 18 months down at the state level, that’s experience I have more than he does.”
The gap in experience is wide between the two candidates, and so are the campaign finances.
Dahle’s latest campaign disclosure statement for the period between March 18 to May 17 states his campaign received $100,743 in contributions, with $123,963 for the entire year to date.
Smith has had no contributions to his campaign and has raised no money for his election bid, according to records obtained from the California Secretary of State’s office.
“I’m not competitive by a long shot, I’m not going to lie to you,” Smith said.
“I do feel like it’s an experience.”
While it is evident that Dahle has a significant advantage in the race, he says he has too much respect for the voters of the district to take any opponent lightly.
“I always respect the voter, and I take every single election I’ve ever been in very seriously,” Dahle said. “It doesn’t matter who my opponent is, I think you need to ask the voters for their vote. And I respect that and I don’t ever want to take anything for granted, so I never do. I always campaign like I can be beat, because I can, and I realize that.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.