Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) conceded the Assembly District 7 election to Republican candidate Josh Hoover on Tuesday, ending one of the closest Assembly elections three weeks after election day.
Cooley, who previously was the Mayor and a City Councilman of Rancho Cordova in the 2000’s and early 2010’s, was first elected to the East Sacramento County seat in 2012, replacing outgoing Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada. The Assemblyman won his next elections by at least 54% of the vote. However, redistricting in the last few years, as well as GOP efforts at signing up people to vote, made 2022 his first real Assembly election challenge.
Meanwhile, the GOP backed Hoover, the Chief of Staff to outgoing Assemblyman/incoming Congressman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) and a school board member of the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, bringing both Assembly and elected experience. The election proved to be tight, with neither candidate managing to pull far out ahead in any pulls throughout the summer and fall. Early results on election day showed Cooley out ahead by only about 300 votes with 25% of the vote in. As more votes were counted, Hoover slowly took the lead, with mail-in votes, which usually favors Democratic candidates, going more towards Hoovers favor.
By November 18th, a large Democratic vote influx swung the race toward Cooley by over 900 votes. But the rollercoaster of the count continued, and by last week Hoover was up again. On Tuesday, the results stood at 50.5%, or 82,226 votes, for Hoover and 49.5%, or 80,749, for Cooley. With 92% of the votes now counted, the lead was seen as insurmountable for the Cooley campaign, who conceded late on Tuesday, officially flipping what was a Democratic seat.
“I received a call from Assemblyman Ken Cooley today,” said Hoover in a press release. “He was gracious in defeat and congratulated me on my victory. Thank you to the voters for entrusting me to serve the people of the 7th Assembly District and represent our community in the Legislature. I am truly honored.”
I received a call from Assemblyman Ken Cooley today. He was gracious in defeat and congratulated me on my victory.
Thank you to the voters for entrusting me to serve the people of the 7th Assembly District and represent our community in the Legislature. I am truly honored. pic.twitter.com/mOUCgPoGxg
— Josh Hoover (@joshua_hoover) November 30, 2022
Many political experts noted that the win, while not being part of an overall red wave, showed that California is still competitive for Republicans, and may indicate a growing conservative voting base within the state in the coming years.
“Hoover’s win showed that there is still a strong GOP force in California, or at least one strong enough to keep flipping seats,” explained Michelle Wallace, a Washington political analyst of state and federal elections in Western states, to the Globe on Friday. “In terms of the House, California looks like it is going to gain GOP held seats for the first time in forever, Governor Newsom became the first Democratic candidate for Governor to get under 60% since 2006, LA almost elected a non-liberal Democrat as Mayor, and, while more of a mixed-bag, we are still seeing surprises like this pop up in Assembly and state Senate races. The Democrats just lost their Rules Committee Chairman in the Assembly.
“I think we need 2024 to make sure, as the Presidential election and the evening out of the chaos of redistricting can smooth it all out, but it looks like California might be in a gentle turnaround on conservative candidates and policies. There’s been a lot of efforts to turn it around, and with crime worries and growing wildfire, housing and homeless crises affecting everyone, the problems are much more visible and Democrats are being asked now why they didn’t prevent this. Hoover’s win was definitely part of this first tremor, taking an area long held by a Democratic candidate. Democrats now have to go on the offense in a lot more places than usual, and in California, they just aren’t used to that.”
Before Cooley’s concession on Tuesday, the Assembly 7th District race had been the closest in the state.
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