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Angelique Ashby vs Dave Jones | California's 8th District State Senate race, explained

Starting just north of the Sacramento International Airport, this district stretches down through the capital towards Elk Grove.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Democrats Dave Jones and Angelique Ashby were the clear front-runners in the primary for this open seat, but it still became a high-stakes race — and eye-poppingly expensive with heavy spending by interest groups. Now it’s time for the second and final showdown.

Jones is a known presence in California politics: After serving on the Sacramento City Council, he was elected to the state Assembly in 2004 and then as insurance commissioner in 2011. He championed an unsuccessful ballot measure that would have given that office the right to regulate health insurance premiums. Though his bid for attorney general in 2018 was unsuccessful, Jones has built strong connections to the powers that be within the Democratic Party — organized labor, environmental activists and consumer rights advocates.

Ashby may not have statewide name recognition, but she’s a familiar face in local politics as a Sacramento City Councilmember and current vice mayor. She also started a consulting firm focused on creating transition programs that help parolees, foster youth and incarcerated women. And she promotes her personal story of a single mom who put herself through college and law school. 

Though both candidates are mainstream Democrats, Jones has some more progressive positions, backing a bill that would push California toward adopting a single-payer health insurance system, for example. Ashby says she hopes to follow the more moderate path of outgoing Sen. Richard Pan, who endorsed her.

That ideological split has attracted millions of dollars in outside spending, transforming this legislative race into a proxy battle between environmental, labor and progressive activists backing Jones and police and firefighter unions, charter school advocates and the pharmaceutical industry supporting Ashby.

Another layer of drama in this already hot race: Jones successfully sued the Secretary of State’s office and Ashby to remove her ballot designation as a “women’s advocate.” Ashby, who is trying to become the first woman elected to the Legislature from Sacramento County in 20 years, responded that she just wants to be called “senator.”

 California's 8th District

Credit: CalMatters
California's 8th district for state senate

This Democratic stronghold has taken on supersized importance in California political circles, if only because of the mailers that bombarded Sacramento-area legislative staff and lobbyists during a rather vicious intra-party primary. Starting just north of the Sacramento International Airport, this district stretches down through the capital towards Elk Grove.

Voter registration: 51.8% Democratic, 18.9% Republican, 22.1% no party preference

Campaign Finance

View the campaign finance numbers for the candidates below.

This is an abridged version of the full story, which is available at CALmatters.org—a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

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