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Republican Megan Dahle joins husband in Legislature after District 1 Assembly win

Republican Megan Dahle and Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt faced off to represent Assembly District 1.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Update: 7:45 a.m.

Republican Megan Dahle won Tuesday's special election for California's District 1 State Assembly seat with nearly 60% of the vote

In a post to Facebook conceding the race, Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt noted that even though she didn't win, that her supports should not give up and get ready for 2020.

Original story

A Republican attempting to join her husband in California's Legislature is pitted against a Democratic opponent in a special election Tuesday that had officials preparing for the possibility of wildfires or blackouts.

Republican Megan Dahle and Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt are each trying to succeed Brian Dahle, who represented Assembly District 1 until he won a special Senate election in June. They are the top two vote-getters from a special primary election in August.

Dahle and her husband have a wheat farm and a related seed grain transport business in Bieber. Betancourt is a farmer, small business owner and rural advocate in Shasta County.

They're running in a rural district that is bigger than West Virginia, stretching from suburban Sacramento to the state's northeastern corner and covering all or parts of nine counties. The district's registered voters are 40% Republicans and 28% Democrats, with another 22% having no party preference.

Betancourt reported raising and spending more than $100,000 on the campaign. She had outside support in the form of a $1,700 campaign mailer from the Democratic Central Committee of Siskiyou County.

Dahle raised and spent more than triple that amount and benefited from more than $30,000 in outside spending on radio advertising and telephone calls by a group representing correctional officers and real estate agents.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla said he was working with county elections officials and electric utilities to make sure voting can continue even if there is a fire or power outage, though none is expected.

Utilities have periodically been shutting off the lights across much of California recently to avoid having their equipment spark wildfires, with limited success. Wildfires fanned by high winds last week drove thousands of people temporarily from their homes.

Padilla said 32 of California's 58 counties are hosting elections either in the Assembly District 1 race or their own local elections. The balloting "must not be overlooked as California grapples with power shutoffs during wildfire season," he said in a statement.

County elections officials should have contingency plans, he said, while utilities have a responsibility to work with elections officials to make sure voters are not disenfranchised because of electricity outages.

His office has a webpage devoted to procedures and guidelines for voting in a state of emergency or natural disaster. Among other things, it advises officials to be ready to move their operations if necessary, or use flashlights, generators and backup voting materials.

Electronic information such as voter registrations and election system data should be saved at a secure off-site location, and remain available even if there is a power failure at the main elections office, the website said.


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