North State U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa faced off against several challengers Tuesday night at the polls, including the Democrat whose 2018 campaign gave him the biggest threat to his incumbency to date.
LaMalfa, R-Richvale, beat challenger Audrey Denney, of Chico, 56.1% to 43.9% in the November 2018 election.
This time around, LaMalfa led the District 1 congressional race with 57.9% of the vote to Denney’s 36.2%, meaning the two will advance to the November election. That unofficial tally was from vote-by-mail ballots and 100% of district precincts.
“I’m certainly happy with the early numbers, and I know they’ll change as we go along, but it’s certainly a nice, fast start out of the gate,” LaMalfa said by phone from Washington, D.C. Tuesday night.
Brian Solecki, Denney’s campaign manager, said the numbers are where they expected them to be.
“From day one, we knew we were going to be going through with Rep. LaMalfa, and we’ve been always working to lay our foundation for the fall,” Solecki said.
“That’s what we’ll continue to do when we meet up in November.”
Who went up against Doug LaMalfa and Audrey Denney?
LaMalfa and Denney were both up against several other candidates, including:
• Perennial candidate Gregory Cheadle
• Write-in candidate Kenneth Swanson
• Rob Lydon
• Joseph LeTourneau
“We’re excited about the challenge ahead of us and to continue connecting with people across the district,” Solecki said.
Cheadle and LeTourneau are both registered as no-party-preference, while Lydon is a Democrat and Swanson is a Republican.
Results from the California Secretary of State Wednesday afternoon showed Lydon had 3.7%, Cheadle had 1.1% and LeTourneau had 1.1%.
Cheadle didn’t immediately return a message looking for comment Tuesday night. Lydon said he was pleased with his results so far because he treated this election as a test run without spending money on advertising.
“I’m tracking almost exactly where I wanted to be. I was in this race just to get a feel for things,” Lydon said. “This is all just word of mouth and people that I know, conversations I’ve had.”
Lydon said he plans to run again next election, as does Swanson, who said he wants to create a national disaster-awareness program in Congress.
“We have got to do something to mitigate disasters,” Swanson, of Redding, said Wednesday.
Denney, who has a background in agriculture, has billed herself as the Democratic candidate with enough small-town rural sensibility to flip the District 1 seat while still fairly representing the largely conservative district.
LaMalfa himself is a rice farmer whose cowboy-hat branding on campaign materials includes the slogan “One of us.”
“My own numbers are really strong at this early moment ... it just remains so early right now,” he said. “I think ‘20 will look different from ‘18 in a lot of aspects. The presidential voters act differently from midterm voters, so there’s high motivation for a lot of people to turn out. No election is the same as the previous one, generally.”