Campaign tactics heat up before state Senate District 1 special election
The political campaign ads have hit hard in some parts of state Senate District 1.
One Nevada County resident received over 10 mailers this month, a mix from Assemblymen Brian Dahle and Kevin Kiley. Both men are fighting to win the Tuesday runoff that will elevate one of them to the state Senate.
With only a few days to go, the race is getting rough.
The California Secretary of State’s Office said it’s reviewing a mailer some voters have received to determine whether it violates state election law.
The letter, apparently sent by an organization calling itself the Northern California State Voter Project, lists a handful of people — including the recipient — as well as the city in which they live and whether they voted in the past few elections.
“This chart includes you and the names of people you may know and their voting history,” the letter states. “After the June 4th election, we plan to send an updated chart to you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors so we can see how we did together.”
David Gilliard, campaign consultant for Kiley, said he only learned of the letter when a KCRA reporter contacted him about it Wednesday.
“It’s just an odd approach and it’s hard to tell what the approach is,” Gilliard said.
Josh Cook, Dahle’s campaign manager, claimed only people in Kiley’s Assembly district received the mailer. He wants the Secretary of State’s Office to investigate.
“It’s a way to try to get the vote out,” Cook said. “It was meant to hurt us, not help us.”
A legitimate mailing would have listed who funded it — information missing from the recent flier, Cook said.
Gilliard argued the mailer appeared like subterfuge from the Dahle camp. He pointed to a political ad sent out before the March 26 primary. That ad encouraged Republicans to vote for Dahle and Democrats for Steve Baird.
A Democrat this year who ran in 2016 as a Republican for the state Senate District 1 seat, Baird dropped out of the race before that mailer was sent.
Two other Republicans and a Democrat also sought the state Senate seat, though Dahle and Kiley came in first and second, respectively.
“Considering the controversy, it is impossible to tell if this helps any particular candidate or even has the effect of ‘shaming’ people into voting,” Gilliard said of the recent flier.
According to the Secretary of State, only campaigns or political groups, journalists and other scholarly researchers can purchase voter registration data. The data includes a voter’s name, address, party and voting history. It does not include how someone voted, Social Security or driver’s license numbers, or other identifying information.
Political groups supporting either Dahle or Kiley have attacked their respective opponents, using health care and wildfire as wedge issues.
Each candidate has tried to link the other to PG&E. An ad paid for by Dahle for Senate 2019 claims Kiley took $500,000 from PG&E and other special interests, and then refused to support legislation to hold PG&E accountable.
An ad paid for by Kevin Kiley for Senate 2019 claims Dahle voted to allow PG&E to forego responsibility for fires they cause.
Kiley received $8,200 in contributions from PG&E. He donated it to the North Valley Community Fund, Gilliard said.
“He’s trying to fool voters into thinking he’s not PG&E’s candidate in this race,” Gilliard said of Dahle.
Gilliard pointed to Assembly Bill 740, which if passed into law would create a wildfire victims fund. “An electrical company and its shareholders” would set aside money annually, cash that would reimburse the fund if the utility was found to be responsible for a wildfire.
Kiley supported the bill in a Wednesday vote. Dahle didn’t vote.
Cook said the PG&E discussion was, in fact, about Senate Bill 901 — a bill Dahle’s previously lauded during the campaign.
Dahle’s camp said the bill provides several benefits, which include helping landowners understand the permitting process for vegetation maintenance, removing some restrictions on vegetation management projects and requiring the state to create defensible space regulations.
“Kiley wouldn’t vote for it,” Cook said. “Dahle did.”
Dahle voted for the bill. Kiley didn’t vote.
Cook also pointed to the number of endorsements Dahle has received from firefighter organizations. Dahle’s website counts the Nevada County Professional Firefighters among them.
The number of political forums also became an issue after the primary. Kiley claimed Dahle was backing out of forums. Dahle said his schedule conflicted with tentative dates.
No forum with both candidates occurred in western Nevada County after the primary. KIXE aired a forum on Saturday.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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