Hansen concedes in Sacramento mayor's race; Low leads by 2 votes in Bay Area House contest

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday March 19, 2024
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Gay former Sacramento city councilmember Steve Hansen has lost his mayoral bid. Photo: Courtesy the candidate<br>
Gay former Sacramento city councilmember Steve Hansen has lost his mayoral bid. Photo: Courtesy the candidate

Gay former Sacramento city councilmember Steve Hansen conceded Tuesday that he wouldn't survive the primary race to be his city's next mayor. It brought to a close his bid to be the first gay leader of California's capital city.

Meanwhile, gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) is now back in second place in his bid for an open South Bay U.S. House seat. But he only leads by two votes, with more ballots yet to count.

On election night March 5, Hansen had been in second place. But as more ballots were counted, Hansen dropped down to fourth in a race where only the top-two finishers will advance to a runoff in November.

Sacramentans are choosing who will succeed Mayor Darrell Steinberg, as he decided not to seek a third term this year. After another vote update came Tuesday, epidemiologist Dr. Flojaune Cofer and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) strengthened their standings to be the two mayoral candidates moving on to the fall ballot.

Hansen called both Tuesday to congratulate them on their first and second place showings, respectively, in the primary. In a statement he released, Hansen thanked those voters who had backed him in the race.

"The latest results were just released — it was sooo close, but unfortunately we will not be advancing to the run off," stated Hansen, "While the results released today were not what we hoped, it is not the end of our work fighting for a better Sacramento. Thank you for believing in me and my vision for what our city could be."

As of the March 19 update in the race, Hansen's total is now at 21,414 votes. It puts him in fourth place behind Dr. Richard Pan, a former state senator, who is in third with 21,752 votes. (He has yet to concede.)

Cofer is in first place with 29,628 votes, while McCarty is in second with 21,964. According to county elections officials, there are now fewer than 7,000 ballots to count and the next update will come Friday at 4:15 p.m.

Hansen had been aiming for a political comeback after losing his bid for a third term in his council seat in the 2020 primary. In his concession statement Hansen also thanked his partner, Michael McNulty, and their two young sons for supporting him throughout the mayoral race.

"Launching in this campaign nine months ago, it was clear from the start that this would be tough, but I was never alone. I'm so grateful for the support, friendship, and love of my partner, Michael, our sons, and people of all stripes across the City of Sacramento," stated Hansen.

He also pledged to remain involved in his city's civic affairs.

"I'm not giving up on Sacramento — please don't you either," stated Hansen. "Today is the first day of Spring, and I hope you find inspiration in the gift of new flowers, green shoots, and a sunny day. Please stay in touch. I'm not going anywhere."

Low seesaws back into second place

In his still too close to call contest, Low has seesawed back into having a slight lead over Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian. The two Democratic leaders have been bouncing back and forth since the March 5 primary between second and third place.

One of them will move on to the November 5 ballot to compete against former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo for the 16th Congressional District seat spanning San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The winner will succeed Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who opted not to seek reelection this year.

Liccardo is leading the three with 38,430 votes. Low now has 30,211 votes, and Simitian closely trails him with 30,209 votes.

San Mateo elections officials have 20 ballots left to count and will next post an update by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The county registrar noted there are 680 challenged ballots that can be "cured" before 5 p.m. on April 2, meaning those voters have a chance to address the irregularity found with their ballot in order to have it be counted.

Another update from Santa Clara's registrar will come by 5 p.m. Wednesday, as the county's elections officials are whittling down the 1,300 ballots they had left as of Tuesday morning. The county also reported having 1,100 challenged ballots pending due to issues with voters' signatures, down 100 from Monday.

A campaign spokesman for Low did not respond Monday to the Bay Area Reporter's inquiry if it was asking its supporters to ensure their ballots don't need to be cured or have been challenged.

His campaign has not issued comment since last week, when it posted on X March 13 that it was waiting for "all votes being counted in this race." That Wednesday, Low had taken the lead for second place for the first time in the primary race.

Low is vying to become the first LGBTQ congressmember from the Bay Area. In the East Bay race to succeed outgoing Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who failed to survive the primary race for the seat long held by the late U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein, queer candidate Jennifer Kim-Anh Tran, Ph.D., is seen as the underdog against BART board member Lateefah Simon in their runoff race on the November 5 ballot.

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