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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.



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