.District 16: Liccardo, Simitian and Low

Days after polls closed on March 5, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo widened his lead over Santa Clara County supervisor Joe Simitian in the 16th Congressional District, as Simitian maintained his margin over state Assemblymember Evan Low.

If the rankings hold, November will see two moderate Democrats facing off against one another. One is a former mayor of Palo Alto, the other of Silicon Valley’s largest city.

As of Sunday, the three local political heavyweights continued to solidify their positions at the top of a stack of 11 candidates—nine Democrats and two Republicans—seeking to represent about half of the City of San Jose, its western suburbs and the heart of Silicon Valley.

Liccardo, with 27,371 votes (21.8%), held a 4% lead over second place contender Simitian, with 21,880 votes (17.7%). Low recorded 20,509 votes, 1,371 behind Simitian with 80% of ballots cast (16%). The numbers include votes cast in sections of southern San Mateo County and northern and western Santa Clara counties.

San Mateo voters helped Simitian move closer to clinching the all-important runner-up finish—and a spot with Liccardo on the November ballot. In the “top-two” open primary, voters of any or no party affiliation could vote for any candidate.

Totals are incomplete, partial and unofficial from Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters and California Secretary of State.

The 16th District seat was left without an incumbent with the November announcement by Rep. Anna Eshoo that she would not seek re-election after 30 years in the House.

In the “top-two” open primary, voters of any or no party affiliation could vote for any candidate.

County election officials will be counting votes of ballots received through the March 12 deadline for ballots mailed and postmarked by the March 5 deadline. More than 90% of votes were cast by mail over the past month. The county will post updates each day at 5pm.

The county Registrar of Voters office in San Jose reported what is expected to emerge as a low turnout, with an estimated 37% of registered voters casting ballots.

Liccardo, 53, served two terms as San Jose mayor and two-terms as a council member following a stint as a prosecutor in the county District Attorney’s Office. The Georgetown and Harvard Law School grad grew up in Saratoga, and in San Jose near his grandfather’s grocery store. Considered a moderate with strong ties to Silicon Valley tech and real estate firms, he led the city during its growth as a tech center, championed a high-speed rail link and BART extension into San Jose and gained national recognition for the city’s attempt to require gun owners to have liability insurance.

Simitian, 71, is in the final year of his third term as a Santa Clara County supervisor. The former Palo Alto council member served in the California legislature as an Assembly member and state senator. He led efforts in the county and state to build affordable housing, increase environmental protections and boost mental health services. He led early with endorsements from many local elected officials—highlighted by a cherished endorsement from Eshoo—and was considered a moderate Democrat.

Low, 40, an openly gay progressive with strong organized labor support, has served in the Assembly since his first election in 2014. He is a former mayor and council member in Campbell, and is considered a rising next-generation star in the Democratic Party. He also is chair of the California Asian American & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus and a Member of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus.

barry holtzclaw, managing editor sanjoseinside
Barry Holtzclawhttp://sanjoseinside.com/
Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with Weeklys Publishing since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

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