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maggiecoxbyhector.JPGThe widow of late Sen. Dave Cox is backing Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello's bid to fill her husband's vacant Senate seat.

"Dave knew that Roger would be the only choice to continue on his legacy of public service - of ensuring that every person that lived in his district would be listened to, cared for, and represented. This feels very personal to me, and Dave and I endorsed Roger before Dave passed away," Maggie Cox said in a statement released by the Niello campaign.

It's no surprise that Maggie Cox is supporting Niello. The two families have long been close friends -- Niello delivered a eulogy at Cox's memorial service earlier this month. Days before he died, Dave Cox transferred $7,800 to Niello's campaign account.

Niello, formally announcing his entry into the Nov. 2 special primary race, pledged to emulate Cox's service in the seat.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend, neighbor and colleague in public service. It is with a heavy heart but resolute mind I enter into this special election to represent the people of the 1st Senate District," he said in a statement.

Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, and Rancho Cordova Mayor Ken Cooley, a Democrat, are also running for the 1st Senate District Seat, which stretches from parts of Sacramento County to the Oregon border. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote Nov. 2, the top vote-getter from each party will compete in a Jan. 4 run-off election.

PHOTO CREDIT: Maggie Cox listens to Assemblyman Roger Niello as he speaks at her husband David Cox's memorial on Thursday, August 5, 2010 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee



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