Big 3 Elk Grove 2022 elections: Part I - Ashby v. Jones for District 8 California State Senate

 


 

Aside from electing several local officials, Elk Grove voters will select new representatives for three significant offices in November - the California State Senate District 8, California State Assembly District 10, and the District 5 Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. We provide an overview of the elections, some of the voting patterns we see, and make a prediction based on current conditions.


A memorable quote from the epic movie Lawrence of Arabia should be considered when reviewing these three contests. That quote was Nothing is Written. 


With four months until the general election, anything can happen.

 

However, as it now stands in the contest between Democrats Ms. Ashby and Mr. Jones, things look favorable for Jones. 


Let's take a look at our reasoning.


Voting results 

 

First, there are the primary results which Jones won with 46 to Ashby's 41 percent. That gap was consistent from the results released on election night until the final tallies last week. 


Even though the number of voters in the general election could double, experience has shown the primary usually foretells results for the general election.


Jones and Ashby finished one and two, and the third-place candidate, Rafa Garcia, earned about 13 percent of the vote, which is not insignificant. But, now that Garcia is out of the race, where will his supporters migrate?


Given that Garcia's policy positions are closely aligned with Jones, chances are they'll support Jones if they vote. If Jones wins just half of Garcia's pool or those who identify with his positions, that easily puts him over 50 percent. To date, Garcia has not offered support to Ashby or Jones.


In reviewing the precinct results, Ashby, who represents Natomas on the Sacramento City Council, not surprisingly won those voters. Jones, a long-time Tahoe Park resident, did well throughout the rest of Sacramento and was particularly strong in the Pocket Greenhaven neighborhoods.


One area of the district that will be a battleground is Elk Grove. Ashby and Jones split the precincts, and in those they won, neither had a majority, and both were in the 40 percent range. 


Like the final primary results, Garica captured about 12 percent in Elk Grove. In a relatively moderate to conservative community, if Jones can attract these votes, he can surpass 50 percent.


Ashby has the support of Elk Grove's Mayor and Sacramento County Sheriff-elect Jim Cooper, both of who are politically influential. If Ashby is going to have a shot at winning, she must win every Elk Grove precinct. 


The Effects of Advertising

 

One of the hallmarks of the Ashby-Jones primary contest was negative advertising. Jones, in particular, was targeted with negative advertising from an independent expenditure committee.


Even though according to Jones, $1.3 million was spent attacking him, it did not keep him from finishing in first place. The ads, which portrayed Jones as a bobblehead and could be viewed through a humorous lens, were probably not specific enough to affect his candidacy. Calling someone a career politician isn't novel, especially in Sacramento, which is awash with them. 


Conversely, ads attacking Ashby noted her ties to big oil. Even though Jones' supporters were more focused on environmental issues, in an era of $6-plus a gallon gasoline, the ads, intentional or not, tied Ashby to an unpopular industry. We expect this line of attack to continue, and it could be effective. 


Short of polling data, it is hard to determine the effect negative advertising had on each candidate, but undoubtedly it will continue once the campaign gears up after Labor Day. Nonetheless, the attack ads on Jones did not keep him out of first place, so short of some damning revelation, the effectiveness of these ads is suspect. 


Money

 

A factor in every campaign is money. 


Given the big business money that has been spent in this race and the importance they have placed on District 8 through independent expenditures benefiting Ashby, that money will flow. Jones has also been aided by special interest, so he too will benefit.


The difference will be how much money each campaign can independently raise and, more importantly, how it is used. How much cash will be used for TV advertising, mailers, lawn signs, or get-out-the-vote efforts?


Raising money will not be an issue for Ashby or Jones, but how it is spent will play a crucial role.


National Issues


With the recent U.S Supreme Court decision on abortion, that issue is expected to influence many races across the country. Both Ashby and Jones have staked out pro-choice positions so that that issue will be a push.


Other issues that could enter the race are the national rise in crime. Ashby has some law enforcement endorsements, which will play well with many Natomas and Elk Grove voters. 


Another national issue we expect Jones to emphasize is climate change. Jones will continue to attempt to tie Ashby to big oil, which could be damaging from several perspectives. 


Neither candidate has focused on the issue of homelessness, but it will undoubtedly enter the discussion. We expect the history of Sacramento's affordable housing efforts to come into the conversation. 

 

X-Factors

 

In any campaign, there can be surprises and, importantly, qualitative aspects of candidates that surface. One qualitative factor for both candidates is their respective careers and their perspectives.


By our count, Jones has campaigned for five different offices. Having served as a Sacramento City Councilmember, California Assembly member, and California Insurance Commissioner, he has a perspective not enjoyed by many candidates. 


Jones has had a successful political career, and should he see the race slipping away in October, while not a happy experience, we doubt he'll go off the rails. 


Conversely, while Ashby has run and lost for Sacramento Mayor against Darrell Steinberg, she did during the middle of her four-year term. This time, Ashby has to give up her secure City Council seat in her attempt to move up the political ladder. 


What happens in October if Ashby sees things slipping away? Will this push her campaign to ramp up attacks on Jones beyond what we have already seen, and if so, how will voters perceive them?


An impending defeat would end Ashby's political career, for now at least, so how would this affect her campaigning? There is no way to predict this, but less experienced politicians who see their careers slipping away are liable to do anything to stay in the game. 


Of course, the same scenario could be said of Jones. But as noted, he's enjoyed a long successful political career, and a defeat at this stage could be less stinging than it would be for Ashby, and he is less likely to commit last-minute acts of desperation.  


And finally, a saying in politics attributed to Ronald Reagan is true. That saying is "if you're explaining, you are losing."


While the quote has many applications, for Ashby, it means having to explain biographical inconsistencies raised by critics. Ashby has seen fit to address these on her website, and while commendable, these inconsistencies will resurface.  


Our Best Guess on July 6 


While there are dozens of factors influencing any political race, from our perspective, for the reasons listed here, we see Jones defeating Ashy by a comfortable margin of at least four percentage points in November.


And remember, Nothing is Written.

 


 

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