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Ted Gaines wins Senate race

Voters share frustration about special election cost
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Assemblyman Ted Gaines won the Senate District 1 special election race with 63.2 percent of the vote as reported by the California Secretary of State’s office at 11 p.m. Tuesday. The Associated Press called the race for Gaines, R-Roseville, as he led over Mayor Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova. The pair emerged as the top vote-getters in their parties after the special primary Nov. 2. Cooley had 36.8 percent of the vote as of 11 p.m. The seat was formerly held by Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, who died last summer. The district stretches from the Oregon border south to Mono Lake and includes all or parts of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties. In light of Gaines' win, an election would be expected to fill his State Assembly District 4 position. Gaines said Tuesday night the preliminary votes were very encouraging. "I'm feeling great," he said. "The results look very positive. It's an honor to serve, and I'm very excited about trying to get California and its economy back on track." Cooley said Tuesday night he was content just to watch the numbers emerge throughout the evening. "I feel fine," Cooley said. "I mean the results I have seen I'm doing better than just a straight democrat vote in most districts. I'm sitting here with family and friends and just relaxing, and just waiting for the numbers to come through." Candidate comments Gaines was spending election night at the Hampton Inn in Roseville to hear the results as they came in. “Hopefully we are successful,” Gaines said Tuesday. “We have worked very hard over the last several months.” Gaines said he has also heard several concerns about the economy from voters. “Jobs are very important, and we need to implement policies at the state that encourage private sector job creation,” he said. “And I think second is holding the lines on taxes, and I think third (constituents) are looking for regulation release.” Gaines said Tuesday was a fairly routine day for him with a number of meetings and a caucus of Assembly Republicans. The election was definitely unique from others he’s been involved in, Gaines said. “It was a very intense campaign, because of the fact that it was a special election with a shortened time frame. It was an exhausting process.” Tuesday morning Cooley said he put a letter on his website outlining his mission if he should be elected to the Senate. He said he was spending the day making himself available to voters. Cooley was spending Tuesday night having dinner with some friends from his church and watching preliminary results. Cooley said voters have talked to him about various issues during his campaign. “I think in people’s heads is the state’s financial bind and the idea that the state’s government just is not working,” Cooley said. “I definitely see the jobs issue and simply having government that works are particularly huge. Those are the biggest things I hear about.” Cooley said he thinks remembering our country’s demanding pioneer past in moving out west is important to finding a balance in tough times. “I see these as great lessons for our times,” he said. “We face mountains in our day … but you are not going to solve them acting as if you are on a holiday. I definitely think that heritage, we need it now.” The election and its cost The special election cost Placer County somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000, said Jim McCauley, county clerk/recorder/registrar of voters. McCauley said an election to fill Gaines’ Assembly seat would cost the county about the same amount. With Gaines in the Senate seat, the governor has 10 days to call an election for the Assembly seat. At that point the Placer County Office of Elections has a 126-day time period in which to hold the election. If the governor calls a special state election, it will be held on a specific day throughout the counties, McCauley said. Gaines said Tuesday night his wife, Beth, is considering running for his Assembly seat if he should win the Senate seat. McCauley predicted a 52 percent turnout for Tuesday’s special election. Polls were scheduled to close at 8 p.m. with the elections office preliminary results released shortly after. “The actual turnout at the polls today has been very light,” McCauley said. “There hasn’t been a lot of interest in this election. It’s been very quiet so far.” McCauley said his predicted turnout is fairly standard. “That’s about average for Placer County,” he said. “Actually these types of elections usually come in at 30 percent (for the state), and Placer County is usually 15, 12 points higher than state average. For this election there is only one thing on the ballot. Only 117,000 voters are involved because of Senate lines.” Voter comments Auburn voter Elton Dutton declined to state who he voted for Tuesday afternoon, but said he disagreed with the special election. “I think it’s running an amount of between $500,000 and $600,000,” Dutton said. “In this type of economy … to spend that type of money is ridiculous.” Auburn resident Charles Jenkins said he voted for Cooley for a couple of reasons. “I didn’t vote for Gaines,” Jenkins said. “I’m a Democrat. Plus, I don’t like the cost of the special election. (I want to) limit (Gaines’) options.” Voter Dianne Knorr said she and her husband, Mark, voted for Gaines. “He’s a conservative, and that is what we are voting for: lower taxes, smaller government, less legislation,” Dianne Knorr said. “We don’t like the way the government’s going right now.” Mechelle Buhan said she and her husband also voted for Gaines, although they did not agree with the election. “We voted for Ted Gaines under protest, because we are Republicans and we don’t want another Democrat in the Senate,” Buhan said. “I think to run for two different positions, that wasn’t right. That was selfish I think on (Gaines’) part. He should have thought of his constituents, or he should pay some of the money back we are spending on the election.” Buhan said she thinks Gaines is personally a nice man, but that he will lose the vote because of his decision. “The way my husband feels, he said the next time there is an election and there is another Republican running, he will vote against (Gaines) because he is so disgusted with what (Gaines) did,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com