Gay Assemblymember Low clings to slight lead in South Bay House bid

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday March 20, 2024
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South Bay U.S. House primary race with gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) comes down to the last ballots to count. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate
South Bay U.S. House primary race with gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) comes down to the last ballots to count. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate

Gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) is clinging to a slight lead in his primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat. As of Wednesday, he was holding onto second place by three votes.

Trailing close behind was Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian. The two have been locked in a tight race since the March 5 election to see who will be advancing to the general election in November.

Only the top two finishers in the primary will move on to the November 5 ballot and compete for the 16th Congressional District seat, which spans San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Either Low or Simitian will compete against first-place finisher Sam Liccardo, San Jose's former mayor, to succeed Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto).

She opted not to seek reelection this year, paving the way for the crowded race on the primary ballot. Rather than seek another term in the Legislature, Low opted to vie to become the first LGBTQ congressmember from the Bay Area.

San Mateo elections officials have just four ballots left to count and will next post an update Friday by 4:30 p.m. The county registrar had earlier in the week noted it had 680 challenged ballots that could 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.

Santa Clara County elections officials had reported having 1,025 ballots still to tabulate as of Wednesday morning. The county will post another update Thursday by 5 p.m.; it also has 1,000 challenged ballots pending due to issues with voters' signatures.

Liccardo's current total is 38,444 votes. Low now has 30,216 votes, while Simitian is closely trailing behind with 30,213 votes.

Low's 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.

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

Moving on to the fall election is queer East Bay House candidate Jennifer Kim-Anh Tran, Ph.D., who came in second in the primary race for the District 12 House seat in Alameda County. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) will be vacating it since she launched a failed primary bid for the seat long held by the late U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein.

Tran is seen as the underdog in the runoff race for Lee's seat, as she came in a distant second behind BART board member Lateefah Simon, who is currently in first place with 55.85% of the vote. Tran received 14.93%.

Of the two Democrats, Simon has received the bulk of support from the party and other Democratic leaders. Lee endorsed Simon in late January, followed by the state's two Democratic U.S. Senators, Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler, in early February.

Butler, a lesbian, chose not to seek a full term after being appointed last fall to fill the vacancy created by the death of Feinstein. She is expected to step down after the November election, in which Congressmember Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is now favored to win against Republican Steve Garvey, a retired baseball player.

Working to boost Tran's chances come November will be LPAC, the political action committee that works to elect out women and nonbinary candidates across the U.S. It endorsed Tran ahead of the primary, one of a number of out female candidates in the Golden State that LPAC had backed and are moving on to fall races.

"In California, our candidates are not just running for office; they're reshaping the narrative of what leadership and representation looks like in the state," noted LPAC Executive Director Janelle Perez.

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