Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 9, 2012
Ken Cooley now an assemblyman after Peter Tateishi concedes

It's official: Democrat Ken Cooley is Sacramento County's newest assemblyman.

Republican Peter Tateishi conceded Friday to Cooley in the 8th Assembly District, stretching from Citrus Heights to south of Wilton. The vote margin between them had widened from about 4,900 to 7,400 in early counting of mail and provisional ballots.

"The trend is showing that it's not going to move," Tateishi said.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez had named the newly drawn 8th District, in which Democrats hold a four percentage point lead in voter registration, as a targeted seat for capture by his party this year. Millions of dollars were spent by each side.

Pérez, benefiting partly from a wave of youth voters and supporters of Democratic President Barack Obama, has declared victory in seizing two more Assembly seats than his party had last year, giving it a supermajority, 54 of 80 seats.

Republicans have not yet conceded in two close Assembly races, however, one in Orange County, the other in Kings and Kern counties.

Cooley attributed his victory, in part, to months of door-to-door contacts with voters. The leader of his campaign, Andrew Acosta, said it helped that Cooley had a solid record of job creation and the "ability to work across party lines to get things done."

"I'm honored," said Cooley, an attorney, legislative aide and longtime Rancho Cordova councilman. "I'll continue to work with everybody, and try to work on what really matters -- we've got to grow jobs here in California. Everybody's got to work on that."

Tateishi, former chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, said he left a message on Cooley's telephone voice mail to congratulate him and wish him well in his new job, which begins in December.

"I hope he lives up to his promise to be bipartisan," Tateishi told The Bee.

Tateishi said he was proud of his campaign but was outspent by millions of dollars. Campaign documents show that about $5 million was spent by Cooley or by groups on his behalf, compared to roughly $3 million for Tateishi.

"They ran a great campaign, an effective campaign," Tateishi said of Cooley's effort. "I didn't care for all their tactics but it was a winning campaign. You have to give them credit for that."

Cooley currently is on unpaid leave of absence from his job as legislative director to Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello. Earlier this year, he served as principal consultant to the Senate's insurance committee.

Cooley's resume also includes stints as chief of staff to former Assemblyman Lou Papan, 1977-85; chief counsel to the Assembly banking and insurance committee, 1988-91; and state counsel for State Farm Insurance Co., 1991-08.

* Updated at 5:07 p.m. to add comments from Cooley.

November 9, 2012
Bera lead over Lungren wider in Sacramento County House race

Democrat Ami Bera has widened his lead over GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the 7th Congressional District, with the latest vote count this afternoon putting the challenger ahead by 1,779 votes in the suburban Sacramento swing seat.

The two rivals are still separated by less than one percentage point. Bera has won 50.43 percent of the 208,711 votes counted to Lungren's 49.57 percent. Election officials still need to process more than 100,000 ballots submitted throughout Sacramento County, a total that could include tens of thousands of votes in this race.

Bera led Lungren by 184 votes by the end of election night, when about 180,000 votes in the race had been tallied.

This year's battle between Lungren and Bera is one of the country's most competitive and costly congressional races. While Lungren beat Bera by seven percentage points in 2010, redistricting gave Democrats an edge in the suburban Sacramento seat. Outside groups poured more than $8 million into the contest, with pro-Bera forces outspending Lungren's allies by more than $2 million.

Sacramento County election officials plan to update the results again on Tuesday.

November 9, 2012
Moody's says Proposition 30 passage a boost to school credit

After previously threatening downgrades if Proposition 30 had failed, Moody's Investors Service said Thursday that voter approval of the tax initiative positively impacted the credit ratings of California's K-12 districts and colleges.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers enacted a June budget that put education funding at risk this year if voters had rejected the measure. Moody's warned before the election that it would have begun reviewing the most perilously positioned K-12 districts for a credit downgrade if that had come to pass.

"Passage of this proposition is credit positive for the state's K-12 school districts, community college districts and university systems because it averts the state executing a $6 billion, mid-year cut to education funding," Moody's wrote in its Thursday report.

Moody's observed that K-12 funding for the current school year will now remain about the same as last year. The ratings agency embraced Brown's plan to use extra cash to begin reversing delayed payments, which had forced districts to borrow to pay their bills on an annual basis.

The agency said that in the coming years, Proposition 30 revenues "could provide district with more revenues, assuming economic growth and taxable income rise above our current expectations."

Earlier this week, ratings house Standard and Poor's said the initiative's passage was a positive development for the state's credit rating as a whole. Analyst Gabriel Petek said that California could climb out of the ratings basement - its A- remains the nation's worst - if the state uses this period of increased taxes to enact permanent changes that steady the budget system.

November 9, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Is Kamala Harris headed east?

VIDEO: Dan speculates about the possibility of political "musical chairs" in Sacramento.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 9, 2012
AM Alert: More than 3 million votes left to count in California

VIDEO: Dan Walters says, "When you start playing musical chairs in politics, anything can happen." What about Attorney General Kamala Harris, for instance?

California's elections officials had tallied more than 9.6 million votes from Tuesday's elections by late Thursday afternoon, but they still have their work cut out for them.

How many ballots are left to count? More than 3 million, according to information that county officials had given the Secretary of State's Office by late Thursday. Los Angeles County alone had about 796,000 to go.

Elsewhere in the south state, San Diego County estimated about 475,000 left to count. The nail-biter in the 52nd Congressional District (entirely in that county) had Democrat Scott Peters up by 814 votes over Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray, late Thursday.

And in Riverside County, about 183,000 ballots were left to count. The 36th Congressional District race (entirely in that county) had Democrat Raul Ruiz up late Thursday by more than 4,500 votes over Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack.

Sacramento County, meanwhile, has also been working through the 193,000 or ballots it has left. If you're waiting for new numbers on the Dan Lungren-Ami Bera race in the 7th Congressional District (again entirely in that county), we're hoping for an update after 3 p.m. Last we looked, Bera was up by 184 votes.

You'll find a county-by-county list of reporting status at this link. The unprocessed ballots report is here.

LECTURE: United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta is speaking at St. Marks United Methodist Church in Sacramento at 7:30 p.m. as part of its Moon Lecture Series. Click here for more information.

VETERANS DAY: The city of Sacramento is sponsoring a Veterans Day parade Sunday starting at 10 a.m. at 3rd Street and Capitol Mall. You'll find a flier at this link.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Both U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, celebrate their birthdays on Sunday. Boxer turns 72, and Pavley turns 64.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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