George Boardman: Kiley will learn politics is a contact sport in this neck of the woods
Observations from the center stripe: Next up edition
MUELLER REPORT? Yesterday’s news. What’s the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York up to? … BARR MIGHT as well release the Mueller report. If he doesn’t, people with access to the report will just leak excerpts that support their narrative … GOOD ONE: Donald Trump, Jr., mocking “collusion truthers” … THE PREZ did the Democrats a favor by moving to the get Obamacare declared unconstitutional … IT’S DISCONCERTING to see Alex Trebek, who announced he has stage four pancreatic cancer, doing TV ads for funeral insurance …
It was close, but Taxfighters for Brian Dahle for Senate 2019 managed to deflect enough votes from Democrat Silke Pflueger to insure a June runoff between Dahle and fellow Republican Kevin Kiley for the 1st State Senate District seat.
We now get to choose between a Republican who doesn’t object to deceptive electioneering and a Republic assemblyman unknown in Nevada County who spent the day before the election presenting a proclamation to a police dog.
Dahle led the unofficial tally with 44,764 votes, just 245 ahead of Kiley. Pflueger finished third with 40,304, and would have finished first if she had received just half of the 9,035 votes that went to “Democrat” Steve Baird.
But the Taxfighters sent out two mailers less than a week before Election Day stating that “Democrat Steve Baird and Republican Brian Dahle will both appear on your ballot and offer platforms that Democratic voters and Republican voters find appealing,” and concluding that Baird was the “clear” choice for Democrats.
The only problem here is that Baird announced in February he had dropped out of the race, but his name still appeared on the ballot. As it turned out, every vote for Baird made it more difficult for Pflueger to make the runoff. Some aggressive digging by reporter Sam Corey laid out the whole tawdry mess for readers of The Union, but it is likely most voters in the district were unaware of the deception.
Dahle was quick to the tell The Union that his campaign was not associated with the Taxfighters and had no control over what they did, but he didn’t seem to find anything wrong with it either. “People that have died while on the ballot have won, in some cases,” Dahle told The Union, perhaps with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
Then there’s the question of what — or who — motivated Baird to enter the race as a Democrat, particularly since he ran for the same office in 2016 as a Republican. In the past, he has called climate change “false science” and said he supports creation of the state of Jefferson.
When he announced his candidacy as a Democrat in February, Baird called for a guaranteed minimum universal wage of $50,000, voting rights for everyone living in California, and “Late term abortions up to and including the 25th year” before dropping out of the race.
Not even Rep. Alexandria Acasio-Cortez would advance such extreme positions, but Roger Stone might.
Taxfighters raised an impressive $299,000 through March 9, with $150,000 of it coming from the California Association of Realtors. Funding for the mailer was also provided by the California Professional Firefighters PAC, which has endorsed Dahle, and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, another backer of Dahle.
Kiley claimed on his campaign website — a post since removed — that “a paid lobbyist and a supporter of … Dahle” distributed a hit piece claiming Kiley once worked for Kamala Harris and has backed several pieces of legislation that would make life easier for illegal immigrants, including a measure that “would allow illegal immigrants who are convicted criminals” to the stay in the U.S. He even allegedly said something nice about a Democrat!
Kiley, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2016, has the background of an establishment Republican, a radical departure from the folksy farmers from places like Bieber and Richvale favored by NorCal Republicans. He grew up in Granite Bay, graduated from Harvard, obtained a law degree from Yale, and was a deputy attorney general in California.
Like Dahle, he represents a safe Republican district that includes parts of Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado counties. Kiley claims to be the only candidate endorsed by the California Republican Assembly and to have a “100 percent perfect ‘A’ rating” from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Naturally, he’s four square for retention of Proposition 13.
Kiley is a boyish-looking 34-year-old, which sets him apart from the usual “get off the lawn” types the Republican Party typically run for office in California. It is said the Republicans have to field more candidates who can appeal to the young if the party is to become competitive again, and maybe Kiley can do that.
As you would expect, each of the finalists received his strongest support from his Assembly district. Each now has to campaign in the other’s district in search of the votes needed to win the June 4 runoff.
Kiley should be aware that Republicans in the northern most part of the state have developed a habit of springing last-minute hit pieces on voters. In the 2018 election, supporters of U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa distributed a doctored photo of Democratic challenger Audrey Denney signing a pledge to follow the dictates of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. LaMalfa laughed it off as a “joke,” and Dahle apparently has no problem with what the Taxfighters did.
Kiley might want to send out a mailer — say, about a week before Election Day — reminding voters that Dahle helped negotiate a measure that let PG&E offload some of its potential liability for ruinous wildland fires onto its customers. The measure was passed three days after it was printed and at the start of a three-day weekend, and was opposed by the man both want to replace, former state Senator Ted Gaines.
Politics is a contact sport in this neck of the woods.
George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at email@example.com.
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