Updated: Assemblymember Low sees vote deficit cut in half in South Bay House race

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday March 27, 2024
Share this Post:
South Bay U.S. House primary race with gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) remains stuck in second place. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate
South Bay U.S. House primary race with gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) remains stuck in second place. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate

Gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) remains behind in his primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat with less than 1,030 ballots remaining to be dealt with by the middle of next week.

The contest has remained undecided since voters went to the polls March 5. After another update came Friday afternoon, Low saw his deficit cut in half to being four votes behind Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian for second place.

One of the two Democrats will move on to the fall ballot and compete against Democratic former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo. He placed first in their March 5 primary contest and currently has 38,479 votes.

The winner of the November 5 race will succeed Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto). She decided to retire when her current term expires.

After clinging to a bare-bones lead for second place last week, Low had fallen into third place last Friday in the race for the open House District 16 seat that spans San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. He now has 30,239 total votes in his bid to become the Bay Area's first LGBTQ congressional member.

Simitian had retaken the second place position March 22 to lead Low by a handful of votes. His vote total now stands at 30,243.

Low's campaign has remained silent about the ongoing vote count over the last two weeks. In a post on X last Saturday, Simitian had noted, "sometimes it takes a while for democracy to work. This is one of those times."

Elections officials in San Mateo County are down to 452 challenged ballots that need to have issues with them addressed. In Santa Clara County the registrar of voters continues to process 25 unprocessed conditional ballots and 550 challenged ballots left to review by the April 2 at 5 p.m. deadline to correct or "cure" them.

With Monday a state holiday for Cesar Chavez Day, both elections offices plan to post their final updates Tuesday.

The vote count is to be certified on April 4 and could result in a recount if it remains so close. Either of the candidates or any registered voter in the state can request a recount of the vote.

They will need to do so within five calendar days after the completion of the official canvass and signing of the certificate of the election results, as explained by the Santa Clara registrar of voters. The person making the request will also need to cover the cost of the recount.

Back in 2014 gay then-Assemblyman John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) requested a recount in his primary bid to be state controller and first LGBTQ person elected to statewide office in California. He had fallen behind Betty Yee, a fellow Democrat serving at the time on the state Board of Equalization, by fewer than 500 votes.

It didn't alter the outcome of the race, which Yee went on to win. She termed out of the controller office at the start of 2023 and is now running for governor in 2026.

Two years ago, after neither Richmond City Council candidate requested a recount in their tied race by the deadline to do so, Cesar Zepeda won the East Bay city's District 2 council seat after the city clerk drew his name from a red Christmas holiday shopping bag. As the B.A.R. noted, Zepeda became the first gay man elected to the council.

Updated, 3/29/24: This article has been updated with vote counts from Friday.

Never miss a story! Keep up to date on the latest news, arts, politics, entertainment, and nightlife. Sign up for the Bay Area Reporter's free weekday email newsletter. You'll receive our newsletters and special offers from our community partners.

Support California's largest LGBTQ newsroom. Your one-time, monthly, or annual contribution advocates for LGBTQ communities. Amplify a trusted voice providing news, information, and cultural coverage to all members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay -- Donate today!