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Rancho Cordova City Councilman Ken Cooley is running in one of four California Assembly races that are being targeted by Democrats as priorities for funding and other assistance in the November election.

Besides Cooley, the other Democrats identified by Speaker John A. Pérez for campaign assistance are Rudy Salas in Kern and Kings counties; Jose Medina, Riverside County and Moreno Valley; and Al Muratsuchi, Los Angeles' south bay.

The California Democratic Party, beginning this week, will move $150,000 into each of the four competitive races, begin field operations, and launch paid media advertising efforts, according to Perez.

The Assembly leader, in a prepared statement, said the four candidates will stress a "powerful message of restoring opportunity for the people" and will remind voters that Democrats represent "the party of solutions."

Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in the Assembly by a large margin, 52-27, with one seat held by an independent legislator. Democrats would need to gain two additional seats to reach the supermajority necessary to approve tax increases.

Cooley, who works as a legislative staffer, captured 43 percent of the District 8 vote in the June primary. Republican Peter Tateishi, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, qualified for the November ballot by garnering 23.4 percent.

Cooley and Tateishi will run in a newly drawn district extending from Citrus Heights to the Sacramento County line south of Wilton.

Salas, the first Latino elected to the Bakersfield City Council, easily outpaced runner-up Pedro Rios, former Delano councilman, in the June primary for the District 32 seat in Kern and Kings counties. Their totals were 41 percent to 24 percent, respectively.

Medina, a Riverside teacher, will square off in November against Moreno Valley Councilman Bill Batey for the District 61 seat, in Riverside and Moreno Valley. Medina captured 45 percent of the vote in June, while Batey garnered 35 percent.

Muratssuchi, a deputy attorney general and Torrance school board member, narrowly edged Republican Craig Huey in the District 66 primary. Their totals were 41 percent to 39 percent, respectively. Democrats lead in voter registration by 3 percentage points in that district.

* Updated at 7 a.m. Aug. 28 to correct the spelling of Al Muratsuchi.


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