Megan Dahle became the newest member of the California Assembly Tuesday night, defeating Elizabeth Betancourt in a special election by over 13,000 votes.
Dahle will represent the first district, which includes nine Northeastern Californian counties reaching the borders of Oregon and Nevada.
Dahle will be succeeding her husband, the now Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), who had left the Assembly in June after winning a special election for Senator.
“I am so humbled by the confidence and trust the 1st Assembly District voters placed in me to represent them in the Assembly,” state Dahle after winning.
Dahle won by a final tally of 48,516 to 35,342, coasting to comfortable 58% to 42% victory. Her challenger, Elizabeth Betancourt, has taken solace in the fact that each election has closed the Republican-Democrat gap. Once a solidly Republican district, recent elections have shown a slide toward Democrat candidates.
In 2018, then Assemblyman Brian Dahle defeated Democrat candidate Caleen Sisk 63% to 37%. With 2019 bringing in an even lower gap, the next election could see more of a challenge.
“There are even very well known people in Sacramento who said that Assembly District 1 Democrats could not break 40 percent, so this is a huge win,” said Betancourt Tuesday night after her defeat. “We made too much progress this year not to (run in 2020).”
Dahle will have one year in the Assembly before the next Assembly race in 2020, where Betancourt has said she will once again challenge Dahle for a seat. As 2020 is a presidential election, voter turnout is expected to be much higher and will show whether the closing in of Democratic candidates in the district was simply a result of lower voter turnout or if the North State counties in the district are becoming more blue.
Despite the hype over the only Assembly election on election, Dahle’s election as Assemblywoman and joining her husband in Sacramento is largely seen as status quo.
“North State, in counties like Shasta and Modoc, is Republican territory,” said John Webster, who helps organize polling places in Redding. “A Republican is out, but then a Republican went in.
“Dahle is seen as someone who is going to follow in her husband’s footsteps and help fight for things he fought for. One Dahle was working fine to many of us here, so this is more of that. There’s a lot of rural issues here that many people don’t think Democrats understand.”
“We know Dahle is a farmer, we know her husband and what he stood for, and we know what she thinks about the area. That’s why she won. She has what we value here.”
Following Dahle’s victory on Tuesday, the next election for the Assembly in the 1st district will be a primary election set for March of 2020. Both Dahle and Betancourt are expected to win and face each other again for the seat during the 2020 November election.