SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's Republican candidate for governor will get his first — and only — chance to confront Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom face to face Sunday when the two meet in a debate that will be broadcast live on the radio while competing with the NFL for voters' attention.
Brian Dahle, a little-known Republican state senator, will debate Newsom on KQED News at 1 p.m. on Sunday. KQED News will broadcast the debate live on the radio, along with streaming video on its website and social media channels. The debate will then air on KQED Public Television at 6 p.m.
Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos, co-hosts of KQED's Political Breakdown, will moderate. There will be no live audience, but KQED says they will get some questions from voters beforehand. The news agency said the debate would be "a directed conversation," with no strict time limits and rules.
"We live in an era of echo chambers and siloed political messaging, which means civic discourse and public debate are more valuable than ever," said Ethan Toven-Lindsey, KQED's vice president of news. "We are proud to be able to provide a space for these two candidates to share their differing visions for all Californians."
The debate will likely be the high point of Dahle's campaign. He's raised less than $1 million, which isn't enough to run statewide TV ads in the nation's most populous state, home to some of the country's most expensive media markets.
Newsom has not run any ads this year, either, because he hasn't had to. Republicans threw everything they had at Newsom during last year's recall election, only to have 61% of voters say the governor should keep his job. With all of his Republican rivals so thoroughly defeated, none chose to challenge him again this year except Dahle.
With more than $23 million in his campaign account, Newsom has been spending his money on ads in other states. He's paid for a TV ad in Florida and a newspaper ad in Texas. And he's paid for pro-abortion rights billboards in seven conservative states.
In his recent public appearances, Newsom said he's trying to prod the Democratic Party to be more aggressive in challenging Republicans — who he says are winning the national political narrative.
Newsom's words and actions have only increased speculation he is plotting a run for president, with some suggesting he might replace Joe Biden in 2024. But Newsom has repeatedly denied that, saying he supports Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who he said he would also like to see become president one day.
Dahle said he has prepared by participating in a mock debate. He plans to criticize Newsom about California's high cost of living, including record-high gas prices.
"You can't afford to live in California and we must make California more affordable," Dahle said.
Newsom will likely tout his plan to call a special session of the state Legislature to pass a new tax on oil company profits. He's also likely to point to the state budget he signed into law, which includes cash payments of up to $1,050 to most taxpayers to help offset the high price of fuel.