Key takeaways from California governor’s only debate between Newsom and Dahle

Governor Gavin Newsom and State Senator Brian Dahle traded barbs on California’s cost of living, climate policy, reproductive rights and other issues in their only scheduled debate ahead of the Nov. 8 general election. .

Newsom, a Democrat, is seeking a second term as governor and Dahle, a Republican from the northern California rural town of Bieber, were the top two finishers in the June primary. Newsom finished with 58% of the vote and Dahle 18%.

The debate was hosted by KQED in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon, where the two met for an hour-long conversation-style debate, which overlapped with a San Francisco 49ers game. The debate moderators were the station’s Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos. It can be viewed below.

Newsom attempted to portray Dahle as a would-be obstructionist who often opposes proposals from Democrats in the Legislature but rarely offers solutions to issues such as homelessness and climate change.

“You’re just presenting talking points, not substance,” the governor told Dahle after an exchange about state plans and funding for new water storage projects, including the reservoir. of sites planned in Colusa County. He likened the substance of his opponent’s arguments to “only a haze in terms of diluting reality and the facts that you are putting forward here”.

Dahle frequently turned his responses to California’s high cost of living – made worse by record inflation and fuel prices – and accused Newsom and other Democratic state leaders of not doing enough to address it. .

The GOP state senator and farmer also repeatedly accused the governor of ‘running for president’ rather than focusing on California’s issues and attacked Newsom and legislative Democrats for not making progress. on issues such as homelessness despite record spending.

“What he’s done for the past four years is throw money at every problem – more than there’s ever been,” Dahle said. “And what are the results for Californians? Rising gas prices, inflation, homelessness on our streets, our schools are failing. Our children and our people are fleeing California.

Here are five takeaways from the only gathering of gubernatorial candidates on the debate stage this election.

Newsom has pledged to stay in office until 2026 if elected

One of the first questions KQED moderators posed to Newsom was whether he would commit to completing the four-year term if re-elected governor.

Newsom has garnered attention as a potential Democratic presidential candidate should President Joe Biden step down in 2024. The governor frequently fuels such speculation with stunts such as putting up billboards in states with new abortion restrictions to announce reproductive care in California. He frequently attacks Republican Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas over gun laws and policies impacting LGBTQ people.

Newsom answered the question with a “yes” before attacking Republicans again for their policies on reproductive rights and LGBTQ.

They debated suspending the gas tax or introducing a new ‘one-off tax’

Asked about Republicans’ calls to suspend the gas tax, Dahle explained how rising transportation costs are driving up the price of food and other goods and argued that suspending the gas tax would be “the fastest way to really help reduce inflation”.

Newsom and Democratic leaders in the Legislature refused to suspend the gas tax, arguing that nothing would stop oil companies from keeping prices high and collecting more profits.

When asked how to ensure that a gas tax exemption would lead to lower prices at the pump, Dahle said he would “make sure they do it through their taxes that we reduce”.

Newsom again described Republicans’ arguments for suspending the gas tax as “talking points” perpetuated by the oil companies. He touted inflation relief checks, which are currently being distributed to low- and middle-income taxpayers.

The governor also mentioned his call for a special session on Dec. 5 to pass a “windfall tax” on oil companies, though he didn’t provide any additional details on his proposal.

Newsom cited energy experts who say California’s taxes and requirements for cleaner-burning (but more expensive) gasoline don’t account for the large price difference from the national average.

“These companies are ripping you off and ripping us off. And that’s why I want to move forward with a price abuse penalty to combat that abuse,” he said.

Candidates debated what it means to be ‘pro-life’

Newsom and Dahle tangled over reproductive rights, using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion care and the meaning of the phrase “pro-life,” which Dahle used to describe himself.

“With respect, you’re not pro-life,” Newsom replied at one point. “You are a pro-government mandated birth. If you were pro-life, you would support our efforts to support child care centers and preschool and prenatal programs.

Newsom has strongly opposed the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling ending federal abortion protections and has spent more than $2 million to pass Proposition 1, a ballot measure to add the reproductive freedom to the constitution of the state.

“It’s fundamental, core values ​​of the State of California and something that I enthusiastically support,” he said.

The Republican challenger said if elected governor he would support the use of state tax money to fund “reproductive services” excluding abortions, especially for patients in the out of state.

“I know it’s a great platform when you’re running for president of the United States. But here in California, people are struggling,” he said, adding that he would have vetoed the about $200 million for reproductive and abortion care providers in the state budget this year.

Dahle also said he supports the death penalty and would end a moratorium on executions put in place by Newsom in 2019. When asked how that aligned with his “pro-life” stance, he replied “They committed a crime against other people and a jury. selected. I support the death penalty.

They agree homelessness is a key issue, but differ on solutions

The number of people living on the streets of California has increased by more than 22,000 since the pandemic, according to federal data.

Dahle pointed to the problem as another example of California Democratic leaders “throwing money” at a problem without making things better.

“The theme of this debate is that the governor has all this nice talk, but the policies don’t really solve the problem,” he said. “He said in 2003 when he was mayor of San Francisco that he was going to end homelessness. I drove down the street here today, stepping over people, defecating in the street and with needles. He didn’t fix it.

The state senator said drug addiction was partly to blame for California’s homelessness problem. He said he would declare a state of emergency for the drug fentanyl and work to provide more funding for mental and behavioral health services in the county.

Newsom again accused Dahle of opposing budget bills that contained additional funding for mental health. The governor also touted his efforts to house thousands of people through his “Project Homekey” program, which was launched during the pandemic.

Asked what he says to voters who see encampments grow despite billions of dollars in funding to tackle homelessness, Newsom said future funding for local governments will come with “accountability plans.” He also said there was no statewide plan for resident housing when he took office.

“There’s a real strategy, a real plan, and there’s a responsibility for the first time,” he said.

One thing Newsom and Dahle agree on: repairs

The two candidates found common ground near the end of the debate, when Dahle said he supported the creation of the California Reparations Task Force and the return of Bruce’s Beach to a black Southern California family earlier this year. , nearly 100 years after it was seized. by the city of Manhattan Beach.

“These people who were wronged and we fixed things,” Dahle said.

The task force is studying and developing recommendations for reparations for black residents, which could include cash payments, home loans or other proposals. Dahle voted for the legislation to create the task force, and Newsom signed it into law in 2020.

When asked if he would support the repairs recommended by the task force, which are due to be delivered next June, Newsom said he wanted to see them first.

“This task force is meeting. We’ll see where their recommendations come out and we’ll make a decision after the fact,” he said.

CapRadio will rebroadcast the debate Sunday at 6 p.m. and Monday morning at 9 a.m. instead of Insight with Vicki Gonzalez.

About Rhonda Lee

Check Also

Documentary aims to break down stigma and promote dialogue about Indiana’s opioid crisis

A free screening of the documentary Addict’s Wake will take place at the Indiana Historical …