With votes finally tallied, Shasta County’s hard-right coalition learns its fate

A man holding a U.S flag and a sign calling for the recall of a Shasta County supervisor
John Deaton shows support for the recall of Shasta County Supervisor Kevin Crye during a rally in Redding, Calif., on Feb. 20.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The hard-right chairman of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, who questioned whether voting machines fostered election fraud, has narrowly survived a recall.

Supervisor Kevin Crye, a gym owner who took office last year, defeated the recall by just 50 votes out of 9,382 ballots cast, according to final results released by the county registrar Thursday afternoon. In 2023, he enlisted Mike Lindell, the MyPillow chief executive and pro-Trump election denier, in the county’s successful push to ditch Dominion voting machines.

Informed of the results by a Times reporter, Crye joked: “Landslide.”

The skinny margin of his political survival, he said, was to be expected, given that he was elected to office in November 2022 by a similarly slim margin of just 90 votes. “It’s an example of our country: It’s split,” he said of the results.


He also called the recall attempt — which was launched after the Dominion vote, less than four months after he took office — “completely unnecessary” and noted that it had “cost the taxpayers a lot of money.”

Supervisor Patrick Jones, who has led the far-right charge in Shasta County, has lost his re-election bid. The March primary results could signal a shift toward the political center in Shasta.

March 16, 2024

Many in Shasta County had framed the election — in which three of the five seats on the Board of Supervisors were up for grabs along with Crye’s fate — as a referendum on the board’s hard-right turn in the last few years.

Since a Republican supervisor was recalled in 2022 on the grounds that he was not conservative enough, hard-right forces have transformed this largely rural Northern California county into a national symbol of ultraconservative governance and election denialism.

The board’s hard-right majority dumped Dominion voting systems based on unfounded claims of voter fraud pushed by former President Trump and tried to return the county to hand-counting ballots before being thwarted by a new state law that forbade them from doing so.

They passed a measure to allow concealed weapons in local government buildings, in defiance of state law. And they explored hiring a California secessionist leader as the county’s chief executive.

The March 5 election results left that majority weakened, but not totally defeated.

Matt Plummer, a nonprofit advisor, beat incumbent Patrick Jones, a gun store manager who championed dumping Dominion. Plummer won nearly 60% of the vote.

Shasta County Supervisor Kevin Crye standing on the Sundial Bridge in Redding, Calif.
Shasta County Supervisor Kevin Crye poses for a photo on the Sundial Bridge in Redding, Calif., on Feb. 21. Crye survived a recall election by just 50 votes.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Allen Long, a retired Redding police lieutenant and relative moderate, won an open board seat representing western Shasta County. In a four-way contest, he won 50.13% of the vote, avoiding a November runoff election by just 14 votes.

Mary Rickert, an incumbent and moderate Republican who often clashed with the hard-right majority, won 40% of the vote and is headed for a runoff against quarry owner Corkey Harmon. The third person in that race, Win Carpenter, a prominent far-right voice in the State of Jefferson secessionist movement, did not advance to the general election.

Rickert said the electorate sent “a strong message that people in Shasta County felt like they wanted new faces on the board.”

The bitter divide in Shasta County between traditional conservatives and the far right is playing out even at the level of an obscure panel on mosquitoes.

Oct. 6, 2023

The outlier, she said, was Crye’s defeat of the recall. But that, she said, may be in part because he was able to make the race about a man who is almost universally unpopular in the county: Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Crye argued that a vote against him was a vote for Newsom to appoint his interim successor. An anti-recall campaign website put it bluntly: “Stop Gavin Newsom’s Attempt to Control Shasta County.”


Many voters seemed to agree with that sentiment. More than 55% of county voters approved a measure — placed on the ballot by the ultraconservative majority — to make Shasta a “charter county” instead of a “general law” county, giving the supervisors, not the governor, the power to fill vacancies on the Board of Supervisors.

Crye called that a victory too.

“It gives Shasta County local control forever,” he said. “It keeps the governor out of our county — any governor. I don’t care if Trump were the governor. I don’t want any outside, Sacramento politician having any rule as it relates to the Board of Supervisors in Shasta County.”

The committee that tried to recall Crye, meanwhile, said it hoped the supervisor would heed how close he came to losing his seat.

“The Committee to Recall Kevin Crye undertook this recall because of the chaos and waste brought on by Crye’s decisions,” backers said in a statement. “Crye would do well to take seriously the thousands of his own constituents who don’t agree with what he’s doing or how he’s doing it.”