As of Thursday, it looked as though the incumbents would retain their seats in the state Assembly and Senate, as well as in Congress. While all three challengers beat the incumbents in Nevada County, those percentages were reversed districtwide.
State Assembly District 1
The candidates facing off for the state Assembly District 1 seat both prioritized fire prevention and forest management, as well as broadband access.
Megan Dahle, the Republican incumbent, sought reelection against the same contender she faced in a 2019 special election, Elizabeth Betancourt. Dahle won the seat after her husband, Brian Dahle, vacated the position.
As of Thursday, Dahle was leading with 103,033 votes to Betancourt’s 73,305, or 58.4% to 41.6%. As with the other races, those numbers were flipped for Nevada County, with Betancourt at 17,280 votes to Dahle at 12,489 — 58% to 42%. The two women were in a virtual dead heat in Placer County, with Betancourt leading by 15 votes.
“I am incredibly humbled and very grateful for the support of my constituents and their trust in me to represent them,” Dahle said. “We worked really hard to reach out and be available.”
Dahle pledged to continue to highlight issues of concern to the region, saying, “I will continue to be the voice of the North State.”
“It certainly did not go the way I hoped,” Betancourt said, but noted that she performed far better in Placer County than she ever had before.
“It’s the will of the voters, that’s the way we determine things in our democracy,” she said. “But I am disappointed that people didn’t notice that (Megan Dahle) didn’t show up, not to candidate forums, … she didn’t make any public appearances, really.”
Betancourt said it’s not all “doom and gloom,” however.
“We held on to the over 40 percent, record breaking numbers we had last year,” she said. “I’m pleased with the attention this region has gotten. We’ve made real progress.”
State Senate District 1
District 1 state Sen. Brian Dahle, who won his seat in a 2019 special election, headed into the general election as the front runner after getting the most votes in the March primary. Dahle, a Republican, again faced Democratic challenger Pamela Swartz, a Nevada County resident, and was looking to serve his first full term as a state senator.
Nevada County’s results did not reflect the overall vote, with Swartz beating Dahle locally 16,663 to 13,154 — 55.9% to 44.1%. Districtwide, however, Dahle prevailed with 214,422 votes to Swartz’s 159,758 — 57.3% to 42.7%.
“It’s just been a crazy year,” Dahle said Wednesday. “I’ll be termed out in 2024, this is my last race. It’s nice to have four more years and be able to do the job.”
Dahle noted he has served at the county and state level for nearly 24 years.
“I’m going to do my job and focus on my constituents,” he said. “There are still a lot of things I am concerned about.”
Swartz, a Nevada City resident, said the election outcome was expected.
“While it was not a surprise, it still stings,” she said. “Not because of my ego, but because the people in our district are suffering. We have a lot of issues and I don’t see how Dahle is spearheading efforts to address those issues, I don’t see any kind of advocacy at the state level.“
Swartz said she will continue to advocate for the North State, adding, “Despair coming out of defeat is not an option. I’m gonna fight like crazy.”
4th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Republican U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock is leading his Democratic challenger Brynne Kennedy by 173,324 to 154,090 votes, or 52.9% to 47.1%.
Again, the numbers are flipped when only Nevada County is considered.
Kennedy in Nevada County took 3,572 votes to McClintock’s 1,070, or 76.9% to 23.1%.
Kennedy, a tech industry entrepreneur, has said she is poised to lead the district through the pandemic. She’s spent the past 15 years in the private sector, with most of that time at a company trying to connect people to good jobs.
She said her experience with the private sector — working with people who have diverse views and an obligation to owners, shareholders and others — could change the political sphere.
McClintock has said through a campaign manager that he ran for Congress to bring fiscal sanity to government, and ensure natural resources benefit people and their community.
McClintock pointed to the four years he chaired the Federal Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee as a sign of his commitment to financial responsibility and providing access to local lands.
1st Congressional District
On Nov. 3, Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa once again faced Audrey Denney, the top vote-getter among the Democrats in the March primary. Denney ran against LaMalfa in 2018 and lost by a 10% margin, but the congressman for the first time lost two counties in that election — Nevada and Butte.
This time around, Denney beat LaMalfa locally with 14,429 votes to 10,969, or 56.8% to 43.2%. Districtwide, however, LaMalfa again had taken a 10% lead, with 149,101 votes to 119,423 for Denney — 55.5% to 45.5%. As in 2018, Denney also took a lead over LaMalfa in Butte County.
But even though the Associated Press called the election for LaMalfa early Wednesday afternoon, Denney did not appear ready to concede, according to the Redding Record-Searchlight.
She could not be reached for comment, but posted on Facebook around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday that LaMalfa had not yet won the election.
“We are hearing updates from our elections offices that there are huge numbers of unprocessed ballots,” Denney posted. “We anticipate at least another 70k votes to be counted across the district, probably even more than that.”
LaMalfa, R-Richvale, also could not be reached for comment.
Liz Kellar is a reporter for The Union newspaper in Grass Valley, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. Contact her at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.