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Megan Dahle and Elizabeth Betancourt face each other in the 1st Assembly District election. (Youtube)
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Candidates For The 1st Assembly District Head Into The Final Stretch Before Tuesday’s Election

Republican Megan Dahle and Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt To Square Off In The States Only Special Election

By Evan Symon, November 1, 2019 4:25 pm

On Tuesday voters in Northeastern California will choose between two candidates to become their new Assembly member.

Senator Brian Dahle. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

For seven years, the 1st Assembly District, which consists of a large swath of Northern California bordering both Northwestern Nevada and Southeastern Oregon, had Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) as representation in Sacramento. But in June, following the resignation of former Senator Ted Gaines, Brian Dahle was elected to the state Senate.

Since then, two candidates have fought tooth and nail to take the open Assembly position: Republican Megan Dahle and Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt. While most elections in the area tend to go to Republicans due to the large number of Conservative leaning counties in the district, the 2019 election is showing to be closer than usual, with two candidates who have had little elected experience in a state that has made former Republican strongholds toss-ups in recent years.

For the Republicans, Megan Dahle seems to be the candidate who can hold the district for the party. The wife of now Sen. Brian Dahle, her election would follow in the footsteps of previous husband-wife Senator-Assembly member pairings like Ted and Beth Gaines, and George and Sharon Runner, earlier in the decade.

Assemblymember candidate Megan Dahle. (votemegandahle)

Megan Dahle, a wheat farmer along with her husband, had previously served as President of the Big Valley Joint Unified School Board. Throughout her campaign she has supported issues such as small business, water storage, addressing homelessness and crime, and fire prevention. She has also been very vocal about both rural values and education.

“I served as President of the School Board for one term, where I grew my passion for rural education,” said Dahle in a statement. “I advocated for, and continue to support, access to AP and enrichment classes so that every student can achieve their full academic potential. I am running to help build a stronger and safer North State. I’m running for our families and communities and small businesses in our district. I’m excited to do this.”
While Dahle is the current frontrunner with polls showing her in a 60% to 40% lead, the Democrats have not given up just yet.
Elizabeth Betancourt started off with not much name recognition outside of Redding, the largest city in the district, and her home town of Anderson. Prior to running for Assembly, she served for four years as a Director on the Western Shasta Resource Conservation District Board and was also on the Community Development Advisory Committee for Redding.
Assemblymember candidate Elizabeth Betancourt. (betancourtforassembly)
Betancourt has been a big supporter of local government and rural values during her campaign. She has also highlighted conservation, cutting red tape, and addressing the homelessness crisis.

“I believe that local government is an essential part of ensuring that our taxes come back to our communities,” said Betancourt in an open letter. “It’s small businesses that make our rural economy strong and drive the state’s economy. All of us, working together and doing what we do best creates more opportunity, more jobs, and a better quality of life for everyone. I’ve seen the challenges faced by rural communities dealing with a changing economy, mismanaged landscapes, increasing global economic pressures, and limited rural infrastructure funding. The North State is an essential part of California’s past, and provides solutions for California’s future challenges. This is why I am running to be a new voice for the North State in Sacramento.”

With election day closing in, the issue of campaign funding has repeatedly come up. After the primary in late August, Dahle had a commanding $300,000 in campaign funds while Betancourt had only $95,000. Dahle, who already had a step up from being a Republican in a Republican majority district, and had name recognition due to her husband formerly having the seat, looked like she was going to get in easily.
But a number of candidate forums and investigations from news outlets such as the Sacramento Bee, highlighted campaign finance issues. The Bee found that $200,000 of the $300,000 initially raised came from unions ranging from health care to real estate concerns.  While not illegal, it showed that the amount coming from cash donors, usually citizens who support the candidate in question, was much closer than both campaigns initially realized.

Dahle has taken more money from questionable sources that usually don’t sit well with most voters, such as nearly $10,000 from Philip Morris and several donations from drug makers in campaign contributions.

Despite this, Dahle still has a substantial lead thanks to the Republican base in the district, as well as her stance on issues in the region resonating more with voters than Betancourt’s.

The 1st Assembly District special election is to be held on Tuesday, November 5th.

Evan Symon

Evan V. Symon is the Senior Editor for the California Globe. Prior to the Globe, he reported for the Pasadena Independent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and was head of the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. He can be reached at evan@californiaglobe.com.
Evan Symon
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