Sharp elbows coming in California's 9th Assembly District primary?

Assemblymember Jim Cooper (left) is being challenged by three candidates including fellow Democratic Party member
Tracie Stafford for California's 9th District in the March primary. | 

When California decided to push up the 2020 presidential primary to be part of the so-called Super Tuesday, which this year is on March 3, along with the presidential race, California voters will be voting on all California Assembly seats and many other offices. For voters in Elk Grove, Galt, Lodi, portions of Sacramento city and county, and San Joquin County, three-term incumbent Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) will is being challenged by three others including fellow Democrat Tracie Stafford.

With the primary less than three months away, campaigns' have already revved up. In recent days an independent expenditure committee from the California Association of Realtors has placed internet advertising in support of Cooper, who previous to winning the 9th Assembly District in 2014 served on the Elk Grove City Council for 14 years.

Given Cooper has a significant financial advantage over his three challengers, other tactics will undoubtedly surface. For Stafford, who, unlike the other two challengers, has name recognition in Elk Grove and Democratic political circles, the first glimpse appeared in recent days. 

After formally filing candidate paperwork, Stafford released a press statement regarding the campaign. Aside from offering some biographical information, Stafford, who has aligned herself with the party's progressive wing, took aim at Cooper, who is a moderate.

"I am standing up to the corporate-dominated politics in Sacramento to give voice to everyone in our community," Stafford said in the statement.

Stafford focused on Cooper in two areas. First, Stafford said Cooper "is out of touch with his party on important issues, such as criminal justice reform."

Stafford, a noted advocate for victims of domestic violence, has also made criminal justice reform a feature of her campaign. The statement says Stafford will work to "protect our communities with foundational investments in breaking the cycle of incarceration and recidivism with job training and equal opportunity."

Cooper, who retired as a captain from the Sacramento Sheriff's Department following a 30-year career, has sponsored crime victims legislation such as the collection of DNA samples from criminal suspects, which he argues helps solve cold murder cases. Likewise, Cooper has been criticized by criminal justice reform advocates for not supporting measures to reverse laws which they claim disproportionately affect minority communities.

Responding to Stafford's claim that he is embattled and not in touch with his party, Cooper noted that at the recent Democratic Party convention on Long Beach, he was endorsed on the first ballot. Cooper stated he is "lifelong proud Democrat" and said the endorsement validated his stature within the party.

"Two weeks ago, I was overwhelming endorsed with nearly 70-percent of the delegate," he said. "My opponent did not receive the Democratic Party endorsement." 

Cooper also noted during his five years as a legislator, he has held a Democratic leadership position as the assistant majority whip. Additionally, Cooper is the chair of budget subcommittee number 4 on state administration.

"I've been able to do a lot for Elk Grove," Cooper added.   

Cooper called Stafford's second claim in her press release of sexual harassment allegations as baseless and false. Stafford said Cooper "continues to be dogged by past accusations of sexual harassment..."

"Voters have rejected that over and over again," Cooper said. "They rejected in 2014, 2016, 2018, and they will reject them in 20."

Under California election law, even if a candidate in an Assembly race receives over 50-percent, they will still run against the second-place finisher, regardless of party affiliation in the November 2020 general election. Although there are two other candidates for the seat - Democrat Mushtaq Tahirkheil, and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Dennis Terrill, Cooper and Stafford are expected to finish first and second respectively in the March primary and will face off in November.  

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2019. All right reserved.


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