Two voters seek recount of Low's tied South Bay House race

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday April 9, 2024
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A recount is being sought in the primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat where gay Assemblymember Evan Low tied for second place. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate<br>
A recount is being sought in the primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat where gay Assemblymember Evan Low tied for second place. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate

Two people have asked for a recount of the primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat where gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) tied for second place. One person has ties to first-place finisher Sam Liccardo, the Democratic former mayor of San Jose.

Liccardo came out ahead with 38,489 votes. Low and Democratic Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian both received 30,249 votes. The trio is running to succeed Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who decided to retire when her current term expires.

It reportedly marked the first time three candidates come out on top in a primary race since California began using its open primary system. Adopted by voters in 2010, normally only the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation advance out of the primary to the general election.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted last week, in the case of a tie in a primary race for one of the top two positions advancing to the general election, both candidates would appear on the fall ballot. Thus, in the race for the District 16 House seat spanning San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, Liccardo, Low and Simitian would all compete in the November 5 election.

Unless a recount of the vote found Low or Simitian to have singly won second place. Any registered voter in the state had until Tuesday to request a recount, which they would be required to pay the estimated tens of thousands of dollars it will cost to undertake.

None of the candidates had said they would seek a recount. But as KTVU Channel 2 reported Tuesday Liccardo's former mayoral policy director, Jonathan Padilla, was one of the requesters. The other was Dan Stegink, a former candidate for San Mateo County Supervisor, reported the local Fox affiliate.

If valid requests then the recount would begin Monday, according to the story.

Stegink told the Los Gatan he had no intention of paying for a recount himself and thought the two county governments should chip in for it.

"Let's have full transparency and take a look," he told the local newspaper.

Low is vying to be the Bay Area's first gay congressional member. His campaign blasted Liccardo in a statement and called out Padilla for seeking a recount.

In a statement from an unnamed spokesperson emailed to the media, though Politico reported it came from Whitney Larsen, Low's campaign stated, "This is a page right out of Trump's political playbook using dirty tricks to attack democracy and subvert the will of the voters. Sam Liccardo, who does not live in the district, did not file a recount himself. Instead, he had his former staffer do it for him. What's he afraid of?"

(House members are not required to live in the district they represent.)

In a terse statement to KQED, Liccardo's campaign said it had not made the recount request and would not comment on Padilla. The public broadcaster reported that Padilla served as the finance director on Liccardo's 2014 campaign for mayor and gave him $1,000 in December for his House bid.

"The Liccardo campaign would like to thank the tireless work by the election officials and volunteers whose dedication and labor make our elections fair and trustworthy," the spokesman said in a statement. "Every vote should be counted, and that's why recounts are part of the state's electoral process to ensure accuracy."

Simitian's campaign had yet to respond to media requests for comment as of early Tuesday evening.

Following the certification of the tied vote April 4 by elections officials in both counties, Low had stated he was "honored to have won the support of our community to advance to the general election to replace the esteemed Anna Eshoo for Congress. Thank you to all of my incredible supporters who gave their time, money, and votes to support our campaign."

Low added of the "historically close race" that is showed how "every vote really counts. I could not have made it this far without every one of you, and I hope to earn your support once again in November."

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