Every vote counts in Silicon Valley, where two congressional candidates literally finished in second place

Evan Low, Joe Simitian and Sam Liccardo.

Left, Assemblyman Evan Low, D-San Jose, talks with Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, chat after the opening session of the California Assembly in Sacramento, California, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. Center, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian speaks during an opening ceremony of the nursing careers and electric vehicle programs at the Silicon Valley Career Technical Education campus in San Jose, California, on Friday, October 8. August 27, 2023. Right, FILE – In this March 28, 2020, San Jose, California file photo, Mayor Sam Liccardo speaks during a press conference at the Bloom Energy campus in Sunnyvale, California. A lawsuit against the city of San Jose and Mayor Liccardo alleges he used private email to secretly conduct business in the city to circumvent public records laws. In one email, the mayor of California’s third-largest city referred a conversation to his personal account and wrote: I’m going to delete this from my public account, the lawsuit claims. (AP Photo/Jos Luis Villegas,File, Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images, Beth LaBerge/KQED via AP, Pool, File)
(AP Photo/Jos Luis Villegas,File, Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images, Beth LaBerge/KQED via AP, Pool)

Every vote counts in Silicon Valley, where two congressional candidates literally finished in second place

California Politics, 2024 Elections

Julia Wick

April 3, 2024

Tied for second place, three Democrats appear to be heading into the November elections in the race for a coveted congressional seat in Silicon Valley.

The highly unusual situation comes after weeks of uncertainty, with second-place Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and Assemblymember Evan Low of Campbell repeatedly switching positions, often separated by just one or two votes. They appear to have finished the race with 30,249 votes each.

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has maintained the lead in the top spot since the primary, securing his spot in the November election with more than 38,000 votes.

“It was like watching a snail race, the most exciting snail race I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Marva Diaz, a political consultant and publisher of the election guide California Target Book.

There appeared to be no immediate precedent for a three-way race for Congress in California since the state switched to its nonpartisan primary system in 2012, which dictates that the top two winners advance to the November ballot regardless of party.

In the event of a second-place tie in a primary, California election code requires both candidates to appear on the general election ballot along with the first-place winner.

The candidates are seeking to replace retiring Rep. Anna Eshoo of Menlo Park in a safely Democratic district that includes part of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

The results are not yet official, although both counties said Wednesday that all ballots had been processed. County election officials are due to complete their official counts Thursday, with the secretary of state expected to certify the election results.


12 April

A three-way general election occurred in a 2016 Assembly race, when former Assembly member Autumn Burke faced two other candidates, while California Target Book research director Rob Pyers noted on Wednesday.

But both challengers were write-in candidates tied at 32 primary votes


making it a non-competitive general election race and a very different situation than the battle unfolding in California’s 16th Congressional District.

Simitian, Low and Liccardo are all current or former elected officeholders who have run serious campaigns with significant fundraising.

Should the count hold and all three candidates make the final ballot, Diaz said, the presence of three Democrats running robust campaigns would “tremendously change the dynamic” for the November election.

“Running against one other person is very different from running against two other people,” she said.

Eshoo announced her retirement in November after more than 30 years in Congress. Democrats have a more than 3-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans in the district, which includes the cities of Palo Alto and Mountain View and part of the city of San Jose.

Once the votes are certified, each candidate can also request a recount, which they must pay for. But in a situation where they are both headed to the ballot, the political calculus for requesting a recount would be murky at best, as it could potentially result in one of them losing their spot.

Simitian communications director Francesca Segr said Wednesday afternoon that his campaign would refrain from commenting until both provinces officially certified their results.

Low’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but did respond to the Assembly member tweeted a smiling photo

dressed by himself

a shiny, violet-colored tie, with the joke: “It’s special tie day!”


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