Dahle defeats Kiley in state Senate race

Skye Kinkade
Brian Dahle.

Brian Dahle said he is “humbled and honored” to have been elected to the State Senate and plans to continue his work educating fellow legislators about northern California’s unique challenges and opportunities.

Dahle will be sworn in as District 1 State Senator today, Wednesday, June 12 at noon after defeating challenger Kevin Kiley in last Tuesday’s special election.

According to the California Secretary of State’s office, Dahle had 53.4 percent of the vote district wide and beat Kiley by more than 10,300 votes.

In Siskiyou County, Dahle earned 69.7 percent of the vote, the Secretary of State reported, where voter turnout was just 27.55 percent, according to Siskiyou County Clerk Laura Bynum. Only 7,516 of the county’s 27,283 registered voters returned a ballot in the special election.

“Today’s election did not go our way,” Kiley said in a Facebook post conceding the race Tuesday night. “Although some ballots remain to be counted, it’s not enough to overcome our current deficit of 53 percent to 47 percent. Congratulations to Senator-elect Brian Dahle. I wish him the best in his new position.”

Dahle received much support in the northern counties that he’s represented in the assembly for the past six years – in Shasta County, he received 82 percent of the vote – and he said he’s “honored that the voters have confidence in me.”

Dahle said over his years in the assembly, he’s brought 110 legislators to the area and his goal is to do the same thing in the senate, “to educate them on the challenges and also what we have to offer California, which is a lot.”

The legislators get to see the beauty of the area first hand, while learning about the risk of wildfire, high employment, high cost of living and overregulation that is hurting local businesses, Dahle added.

The campaign was a nasty intraparty struggle as both candidates sought to position themselves as the most reliably conservative choice in a state where Democrats control all the levers of power at the state level.

Their campaigns each spent more than $1 million, and the candidates sparred over attack ads. But the two campaigned on many of the same issues, such as opposing new taxes as well as so-called sanctuary city policies for immigrants in the country illegally.

Dahle, a former Republican Assembly leader, had the backing of prominent groups like real estate agents, peace officers and prison guards. Kiley's supporters included backers of charter schools.

After Dahle’s swearing in, Governor Gavin Newsom will need to call a special election to fill Dahle’s current District 1 Assembly seat.

Dahle is a resident of Bieber. He was first elected to the assembly in 2012 and again in 2017. Dahle started his career in politics serving as a Lassen County Supervisor for 16 years.

Kiley will continue to represent residents of several Sacramento suburbs in the state’s Sixth Assembly district. In that area, Kiley dominated the Senate election. In Sacramento County, Kiley had 71.8 percent of the vote and in Placer County he had 60.8 percent.

Kiley and Dahle, both Republicans, made it to the ballot since they were the top two vote getters in a March special primary election.

Dahle will fill the seat vacated by Ted Gaines, who resigned after being elected to the State Board of Equalization in November of 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.