Gay Assemblymember Low retakes 2nd place in South Bay congressional race

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday April 2, 2024
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Gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) has retaken second place in his nail biter of a primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate
Gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) has retaken second place in his nail biter of a primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate

Gay Assemblymember Evan Low has jumped back into second place in his nail-biter of a race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat. He currently has a one-vote lead over Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, with another vote update coming Wednesday from San Mateo County.

The contest has remained undecided since voters went to the polls March 5. In recent days, Low had seesawed from being down either four or five votes in third place behind 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 declared victory weeks ago.

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

Her House District 16 seat spans San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. After elections officials in both jurisdictions posted new vote counts Tuesday, Low saw his total grow to 30,249, and Simitian is right on his heels with 30,248 votes.

San Mateo County had reported 405 challenged ballots remained that voters could correct, or "cure," of mistakes by 5 p.m. April 2 to have them be counted. It plans to next update its count by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

In Santa Clara County, it had reported having 575 ballots left to deal with as of Tuesday morning. By the early evening it had posted a message that it was done with its count and would have the certified official election results available on Thursday by 5 p.m.

If the race stands as is by then, with Low clinging to such a small margin for second place, Simitian could ask for a recount. He would have five calendar days to do so once the certificate of the election result is signed.

A manual recount in Santa Clara County alone would reportedly take 10 days to complete and cost $320,000. It would only take five days to conduct a machine recount, with a cost reportedly of $84,000. A recount of San Mateo County's vote would add thousands of dollars more to the cost.

Low is vying to become the first LGBTQ person elected to Congress from the Bay Area. The state's current two gay congressional members, Mark Takano of Riverside and Robert Garcia of Long Beach, both represent Southern California districts and are expected to easily win reelection in November.

Democratic Lesbian U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler opted not to seek a full term this year. Appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of Senator Dianne Feinstein last fall, Butler will step down shortly after the November 5 election.

Low's campaign isn't expected to comment on the race results until Thursday. In a post on X in late March, Simitian had noted, "sometimes it takes a while for democracy to work. This is one of those times."

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