California Elections

6 are on ballot to replace Ted Gaines in special state Senate primary. Here are the details

Voters across California Senate District 1 — spanning California’s northeastern corner, from the Oregon border to Lake Tahoe, including some of the Sacramento area’s eastern suburbs — began receiving ballots this week for the special primary election to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills.

Gaines, who had represented the district since 2011, won a seat on the state Board of Equalization in November and took office in January. During the 2016 general election for Senate District 1, Gaines won 64 percent of the vote.

The Senate District 1 seat has been held by a Republican for more than 40 years, and represents about 1 million residents.

It includes all of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties. District 1 also represents parts of Placer County (including Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Loomis and Rocklin) and parts of Sacramento County (Folsom, Orangevale and Fair Oaks).

Six candidates are listed on the ballot: two Democrats, Steve Baird and Silke Pflueger; and four Republicans, Assemblyman Brian Dahle of Bieber, Theodore Dziuba, Rex Hime and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Rocklin.

California uses a “top-two” system, meaning the two candidates who get the most votes, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election. However, if a candidate in a special primary election for a legislative or congressional office receives more than 50 percent of the vote, that person is declared the winner and a special general election is not held.

Baird, a Sacramento resident, told The (Nevada County) Union earlier this month that he was withdrawing from the race. Baird ran as a Republican against Gaines during the 2016 primary and has supported the creation of the “State of Jefferson” out of Northern California counties to boost the interests of rural communities that have long been conservative strongholds. He switched his party preference to Democratic in 2017, according to state election records.

Pflueger, a Truckee resident, is a former engineer and businesswoman, and the co-founder and co-chair of activist group Tahoe Truckee Indivisible, according to her campaign website.

Assemblyman Dahle represents Assembly District 1, which stretches across the eastern edge of Northern California, including Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties, and parts of Butte and Placer counties. He was previously a Lassen County supervisor.

Dziuba, a Placerville resident, works in the technology industry and helped found several companies, including an e-commerce company that was sold to eBay, according to his campaign website. He was appointed to the Placerville Planning Commission in 2018.

Hime, a Loomis resident, is president and CEO of the California Business Properties Association and a member of the board of directors of the California State Fair. He previously served as an ex officio member of the University of California Board of Regents.

Assemblyman Kiley represents Assembly District 6, which comprises the northern and eastern edges of suburbs surrounding Sacramento, including parts of El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties. Kiley is a former California deputy attorney general.

Former Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, who is married to Ted Gaines, was expected to run for the seat but ultimately did not file.

The last day to register to vote in the primary is Monday, March 11. The last day to request a ballot by mail is March 19. Voters who miss the registration deadline can “conditionally” register to vote between March 12-26. Election day is Tuesday, March 26.

For more information, head to the California Secretary of State website at

Unsure if District 1 represents you? Find your California representative at

The special general election will be held June 4.

Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks covers Sacramento County and the cities and suburbs beyond the capital. She’s previously worked at The New York Times and NPR, and is a former Bee intern. She graduated from UC Berkeley, where she was the managing editor of The Daily Californian.
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