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No Progressive Candidate - AD09

Based on our analysis, there is no progressive candidate to recommend for your vote in this race.

About the Position

State Assembly Members form part of the California State Legislature, and work alongside the governor to establish laws and a state budget. They hold the power to pass bills that affect public policy, set state spending levels, raise and lower taxes, and uphold or override the governor’s vetoes. The California State Assembly has 80 districts. Each represents a population of at least 465,000 Californians. Representatives are elected to the Assembly for a four-year term. Every two years, all 80 seats are subject to election. Members elected before 2012 are restricted to three two-year terms (six years) in the Assembly. Those elected in or after 2012 are allowed to serve 12 years total across both the State Senate and Assembly. This term, Democrats currently hold a two-thirds supermajority of 61 seats in the California State Assembly, while Republicans hold 17 seats. One seat is held by an Independent, and one seat is currently vacant.  

About the District

California's 9th Assembly District includes portions of Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties. Democrats typically hold this district. Democrat incumbent Assemblymember Jim Cooper has held this office since being elected in 2014. The most recent election results show 61.5 percent of AD-09 voted for Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, and 59.7 percent of AD-09 voted for Newsom for governor in 2018.

About the Race

In the primary, Assemblymember Jim Cooper led Republican challenger Eric Rigard by a margin of 14.4 percent. Assemblymember Cooper has not signed a pledge to refuse corporate PAC, fossil fuel, or police money. Consequently, his campaign is heavily financed by all three types of these contributors, totaling $999,8345 in contributions, with over $63,000 from police associations. Rigard’s campaign is funded entirely by individual contributions, and he has not pledged to refuse corporate PAC, fossil fuel, or police money.

About the Candidate

Assemblymember Cooper is endorsed on paper by progressive organizations, like the California Teachers Association and Planned Parenthood, but is financially backed by:

  • Association for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs State PAC
  • CA Association of Highway Patrolmen PAC
  • CA Correctional Peace Officers Association PAC
  • CA Statewide Law Enforcement Association PAC
  • Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County PAC
  • L.A. County Professional Peace Officers Association
  • L.A. Police Protective League PAC
  • National Peace Officers and Fire Fighters Benefit PAC
  • Peace Officers Research Association of CA
  • Riverside Sheriffs’ Association Public Education Fund
  • Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association
  • San Bernardino County Safety Employees PAC

Assemblymember Cooper’s disappointing and regressive voting history has continued to show Californians that he does not have the people in mind. In fact, he registered as “no vote recorded” for over 60 percent of the bills graded on last year’s Courage Score, our annual analysis of legislators’ progressive voting records, showing he doesn’t really stand for anything. For the last five years, Assemblymember Cooper has been a persistent Hall of Shamer, with a lifetime Courage Score of 20. He consistently fails to support the legislation that the majority of people of AD-09 vote and call for. Assemblymember Cooper also created the Protecting California Cooper Ballot Measure Committee to support Proposition 20, an attack on California’s recent criminal-justice reforms.

Republican challenger Rigard is running on a platform of personal responsibility, government accountability, and economic opportunity. He cites Assemblymember Cooper’s fondness for abstention as the reason he decided to run for office, and according to campaign materials, Rigard will show up and vote on these tough issues. Rigard is an active member of Calvary Christian Center and the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) Clergy Form, which focus on pro-life and Christian beliefs to fight poverty. He is endorsed by the California ProLife Council, California Rifle & Pistol Association, and the California Republican Party.

While Assemblymember Cooper is a marginally stronger choice than Republican challenger Rigard, neither demonstrates a commitment to equitable or representative leadership. Because the Democratic candidate in this race is considered to be a safe win in this district, we feel comfortable providing no recommendation in this race. Keep reading for progressive recommendations in other key races and on ballot measures where your vote can make a critical difference.

Tracie Stafford

Tracie Stafford is a 53 year old resident of Elk Grove, born to a single mother and orphaned at the age of 12 along with her 4 siblings. She is the first in her family to earn a college degree. According to Stafford, she is running to end corporate-dominated politics and to give a voice to the unheard, under-served and disenfranchised.

Stafford is a community leader, an elected assembly district delegate, and was appointed by the governor as Chair of the city of Sacramento’s small business board. Stafford supports legislation that closes the gender and racial wage gap while ensuring that women, the LGBTQ+ community and people of color are provided with equal opportunities in the workplace. She will work closely with labor to ensure that workers are being treated justly and with dignity regarding pay, benefits, and access to promotions.

Stafford’s commitment to justice and equity is fueled by her personal experiences with poverty, discrimination, child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. She plans to advocate to preserve confidential, unrestricted access to affordable, high quality, culturally sensitive health care services, including the full range of reproductive services, contraception and abortion, without requiring guardian, judicial, parental, or spousal consent or notification.

Stafford brings a strong track record and deep relationships in progressive politics and public service. Among many other roles and affiliations, Stafford has served as President of the Women Democrats of Sacramento County, as Political Action Chair for the Sacramento NAACP, and as a founder of Indivisible Women of California.

Stafford is challenging incumbent Jim Cooper (D), who has consistently opposed progressive priorities by siding with corporate lobbyists and failing his constituents on many issues include the environment and worker protections. Other candidates include Mushtaq Tahirkheli (D), and Eric Rigard (R). Stafford is the strongest choice in a crowded field because of her track record as a progressive champion for the underserved and disenfranchised, and as an advocate for her region’s priorities in the Democratic Party.

Voting for Stafford is an opportunity to elect a legislator who will accurately represent the perspective and priorities of her district in Congress. Courage California strongly endorses Tracie Stafford for State Assembly.