It's official: Democrat Ken Cooley is Sacramento County's newest assemblyman.
Republican Peter Tateishi conceded Friday to Cooley in the 8th Assembly District, which stretches from Citrus Heights to south of Wilton. The vote margin between them had widened to 7,400 in early counting of mail and provisional ballots.
"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."
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez had targeted the newly drawn 8th District, where Democrats hold a lead of more than four percentage points in voter registration, for capture by his party this year. Millions of dollars were spent by each side.
Pérez, benefiting from a Democratic tide on Election Day, says his party has gained two more Assembly seats than it had last year, giving it a supermajority of 54 of 80 seats.
Republicans have not yet conceded in two close Assembly races, however one in Orange County and 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."
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 said.
Lungren's own bid for another congressional term remained too close to call.
Democrat Ami Bera widened his lead in the 7th Congressional District, with the latest vote count putting the challenger ahead by 1,779 votes over Lungren in the suburban Sacramento swing seat.
The two rivals were still separated by less than one percentage point.
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 with 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 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 résumé also includes stints as chief of staff to former Assemblyman Lou Papan from 1977 to 1985, chief counsel to the Assembly banking and insurance committee from 1988 to 1991, and state counsel for State Farm Insurance Co. from 1991 to 2008.