Last Second Special Primary Election Scoops! Don’t Forget To Vote!

Megan Dahle on her subsidized farm.

This may come as a shock to conservatives who’ve already voted by mail in tomorrow’s 1st Assembly District special primary election, but Megan Dahle may not be the “proven conservative” she’s advertised as being.

Dahle is running for her husband 1st District State Sen. Brian Dahle’s former assembly seat against fellow Republicans Patrick Henry Jones, Lane Rickard and Joe Turner and Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the primary vote on Tues., Aug. 27, the top two will face-off in November.

Last week I endorsed Betancourt as the obvious choice for anyone interested in seeing prosperity restored to the 1st District, since she’s on board with the state’s ambitious plans to adapt to climate change, which could bring thousands of jobs to the region.

Coincidentally, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stopped by fire-stricken Paradise last week to unveil his $16.3 trillion federal plan to address climate change through 2030. The future prosperity of the north state depends on both the state and federal plans being implemented.

But such large public works programs are anathema to Betancourt’s four opponents, who don’t see climate change as a pressing issue and share the conservative ideology that the economy works best when government steps out of the way and allows the free market to work its magic.

“No new taxes” is their mantra and Prop. 13 is their touchstone. At the candidate forum held earlier this month in Redding, only Betancourt supported the Schools and Communities First state initiative that will be on the November 2020 state ballot. If it passes, it will split residential and commercial property tax rolls, eliminating a Prop. 13 loophole that presently allows large corporations to avoid paying $10 billion annually in property taxes.

Like her conservative cohorts at the forum, Dahle’s support for Prop. 13’s sanctity was unequivocal.

“I would vote to support Prop. 13 as is,” she said at the forum. Meaning she doesn’t support splitting the residential and commercial property tax rolls.

Dahle reiterates this stance on her campaign fliers, claiming she supports “the middle class by protecting Prop. 13 and repealing high gas taxes.”

But her campaign’s website tells a different story.

On the website, it states she “supports Prop. 13.”

On the line just below that, it says she “approved split tax roll.”

“WTF?!” your average north state conservative voter is entitled to ask. “Is that a typo? Does she support changing Prop. 13 as we know it? Sacrilege!”

Is it a typo? Or is Dahle stealthily playing both sides of the electorate, like her husband in previous campaigns? My email to Sen. Dahle’s chief-of-staff inquiring about the issue has so far not been answered.

Screen capture of Megan Dahle’s campaign website.

In the meantime, I’ve found some more evidence questioning the Dahles’ conservative credentials, or lack thereof, and it’s all thanks to President Donald “Tariff Man” Trump.

Last week, shortly after declaring himself “the chosen one” when it comes to dealing with China on trade, Trump re-instated billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese manufactured goods. The Chinese have retaliated by placing yet more tariffs on American farm goods, cutting American farmers out of what for many was their primary export market.

Trump claims that the tariffs that are being paid for by China, but in reality, they’re taxes paid by U.S. importers of Chinese goods who then pass on the extra cost to American consumers. Trump also claims the tens of billions of dollars collected in tariffs are more than enough to compensate American farmers for their losses, which is also dubious.

According to the Environmental Working Group, which researches farm subsidies among other environmental health and economic issues, the tariffs collected so far have fallen short of the total amount needed to bail out farmers. The gap is being filled by U.S. taxpayers. A significant portion of the payments so far have been distributed to “city slickers” who don’t even farm for a living, including distant relatives of farmers and agricultural lobbyists. You can read more about that here.

Anyway, that got me thinking about farm subsidies, since Megan Dahle mimics her husband on the campaign trail by constantly touting her status as a farmer/small business owner battling excessive government regulations.

“I own and operate Big Valley Seed Company,” she states on one campaign flier I received in the mail. “As a small business owner, I know what it’s like to deal with unfair government rules.”

She also knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of government largess. In fact, according to EWG, the Dahles have received $251,530 in total USDA conservation, disaster and commodity farm subsidies since 1995. That’s roughly $11,000 per year in additional income that’s not accessible by your average small non-farming business.

The amount pales in comparison to the $5.5 million in farm subsidies doled out to conservative Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa’s family rice farm over the same time period, including $145,107 in 2018. Nevertheless, it confirms that the conservative principle that government shouldn’t intervene in markets totally breaks down when the conservative is on the receiving end of the intervention.

Thus, Sen. Brian Dahle, as an assemblyman, voted against extending the state’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction fund even as he raided the fund to subsidize the Burney biomass plant, which would have shuttered otherwise. The Dahles’ trucking company makes more than $10,000 annually hauling ash for the plant and would have lost its primary client without the subsidy.

Similarly, candidate Megan Dahle, who calls herself a “proven conservative,” has also proven she’s completely capable of accepting government subsidies when they’re offered, even though she preaches against such welfare programs for, say, poor people.

The question for 1st District Assembly District’s conservative voters is this: Does it matter if a candidate who assumes the conservative mantle doesn’t strictly adhere to conservative principles?

If it does matter, then Megan Dahle is not your candidate.

Patrick Henry Jones, from the campaign website.

So far conservative north state voters have given LaMalfa, the millionaire welfare farmer who regularly votes against the federal food stamps program, a pass on hypocrisy. They’ve repeatedly voted him into office, although that may be because no legitimate conservative contender has run against him.

But conservative voters have a choice in this special primary election. Three of the four Republicans running claim to be the most conservative in the race, and two of them plainly have a claim on the title: Patrick Henry Jones and Joe Turner.

Jones established his conservative credentials during two terms on the Redding City Council from 2008 to 2014, including a stint as mayor. For at least a decade, he’s been warning about the CalPers “pension tsunami;” he cited reform of the pension fund and restructuring city budgets as his No. 1 issue at the candidate’s forum. On his campaign flier, this champion of austerity calls himself an “environmental steward” and insists, “We need to start logging again, our forests depend upon it.”

In an effort to distinguish himself from Jones, a longtime gun shop owner, as the more fervent defender of the Second Amendment, Turner says one of the first things he’ll do if elected is sue the pants off California in federal court to revoke all the state’s unconstitutional gun laws. The retired military vet believes that if you’re being taxed, you’re not free.

The more well-known and experienced Jones is the only conservative candidate with a realistic shot at upsetting Dahle, the “proven conservative” who enjoys the support of her husband’s entire political apparatus, including the public safety unions, which aren’t exactly keen on Jones’ notions of pension reform, and the healthcare and energy industries.

For Republicans who don’t have to vote for a doctrinaire conservative, Lane Rickard’s campaign centered on public safety, disaster relief and responsible development, is an attractive choice. In my view the former legislative staffer and Redding business owner has laid out what he plans to do if elected better than any of his Republican opponents.

Rickard appears to be a member of that vanishing species, the moderate Republican. Whatever species you prefer, the most important thing to do today or tomorrow, is to vote for your the candidate of your choice, if you haven’t done so already.

If you don’t vote, you’ll have no right to complain later.

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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