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Republican Ted Gaines defeats Democrat Ken Cooley in 1st Senate District special election

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Ted Gaines

Ken Cooley

Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 12:16 pm, Wed Jan 5, 2011.

Republican Ted Gaines defeated Democrat Ken Cooley in Tuesday's special election in the 1st Senate District, which includes Galt.

With all 514 precincts reporting as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, unofficial results show Gaines received 81,945 votes (63.2 percent) and Cooley received 47,743 votes (36.8 percent).

In Sacramento County, Gaines received 23,384 votes (59.2 percent) and Cooley received 16,136 votes (40.8 percent).

With the apparent victory, Gaines, who lives in Roseville, will step down as 4th District assemblyman. He is scheduled to be sworn in to his Senate seat at 9 a.m. Thursday in the State Capitol.

Cooley was mayor of Rancho Cordova in 2010, and remains on the city council there.

"It will be an honor to serve," Gaines said Tuesday night. "Dave Cox did a wonderful job serving the 1st Senate District."

The election was held to replace Cox, of Fair Oaks, who died in July.

Cooley and Gaines were among three Republicans and one Democrat on the Nov. 2 ballot. Although they are from different parties, all four candidates were on all ballots.

Gaines was the leading vote-getter, and Cooley was second. Because no one received more than 50 percent of the vote, they qualified for Tuesday's ballot. Republicans Roger Niello, of Fair Oaks, and Barbara Alby, of Folsom, trailed in the Nov. 2 voting and didn't qualify for the runoff.

The 1st Senate District includes Galt, Herald, Elk Grove, eastern Sacramento County, the foothill counties of Calaveras, Amador and El Dorado, part of Placer and Nevada counties, and the entire Highway 395 corridor from Mammoth Lakes to the Oregon border (except for the portion in Nevada).

Despite the geography of the wide-ranging district, 42 percent of the district's registered voters live in Sacramento County.

Cooley said Tuesday's special election date was ill-timed because it comes right after the holidays, when voters' minds may not be on politics. He said he was busy with Christmas shopping, the holidays and his son's wedding in addition to running for office.

Gaines, 52, a sitting Assemblyman in Placer County, wears his conservatism on his sleeve — his campaign website read, "No tax increases — period."

Cooley, 57, painted himself as a moderate to conservative Democrat, focusing his campaign on reforming what he considers extremely poor governance at the state level.

Gaines said his solution to the state's estimated $28 billion budget deficit is to explore an across-the-board cut of every program in the state. He also said the Legislature should consider eliminating every program that isn't mandated by the federal government.

Cooley said across-the-board cuts wouldn't be a good idea.

The most important part of managing the state, Cooley said, is to establish the highest and lowest priorities and incorporate them in the state's fiscal decisions.

Cooley also ran on the platform of reforming how the Legislature is run.

"We have a governance crisis," Cooley said in a December interview. "Our government is not working."

Cooley wants to get rid of the so-called Big-5 concept, where the governor and the Republican and Democratic leaders for the Assembly and Senate negotiate the state budget before bringing it to the floor for a vote. That leaves 116 of the 120 legislators without input prior to the vote, Cooley said.

Other priorities Cooley listed include protecting California's investment in education and opposing new taxes without a vote of the people.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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