Low wins recount in congressional race, will advance to November

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday May 1, 2024
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South Bay congressional candidate Evan Low will advance to November after coming in second following a recount. Photo: Courtesy the candidate
South Bay congressional candidate Evan Low will advance to November after coming in second following a recount. Photo: Courtesy the candidate

Gay state Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) won the recount vote in the hotly contested 16th Congressional District race by five votes, meaning he will face former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo (D) in November.

The results of the more than two week recount conducted in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties were announced Wednesday in San Mateo and Tuesday in Santa Clara.

According to returns from the two counties, Low received a total of 30,261 votes. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian (D), who had tied with Low for second place in the weeks after the March 5 primary, received 30,256 votes.

Liccardo has always been in first place and finished with 38,492 votes, according to the totals released by the counties.

The 16th Congressional District seat became open after Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) opted not to seek another term.

Wednesday afternoon, Low, who is vying to be the Bay Area's first gay congressional member, issued a statement.

"My team and I knew that succeeding the esteemed Anna Eshoo would be challenging, so we see a race ending in a tie followed by a recount as character building for your next representative in Congress," he stated.

"We are very excited that my advancement into the general election was reaffirmed and I now look forward to the real work of tackling the bid issues facing our country like reproductive freedom and affordability," he added.

Low also thanked "each voter and supporter who played a crucial role in reaching this moment."

"This election reminds us that every single vote and form of participation matters," Low stated.

Simitian was gracious in defeat, posting on X that he came up short and had conceded.

"I trust the process and accept the result," he wrote.

Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, hailed Low's surviving the primary in a May 2 statement. The national organization that helps to elect out candidates to public office has long supported Low throughout his political career.

"LGBTQ+ Americans and AAPI Americans are woefully underrepresented at all levels of government — including Congress — and Evan's primary performance is a major milestone to celebrate," stated Parker, using the acronym for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. "Evan Low's strong showing in this multi-candidate primary proves that he's earned the confidence of Silicon Valley voters based on his long record of service to this region."

Low's victory in the March 5 race, added Parker, is not only "a testament to the excellent campaign he ran, it's a sign of the excellence his constituents can expect from him as their voice in Washington. I look forward to doing everything I can to make sure Evan wins this November."

After Low and Simitian finished dead even, both seemed content to advance to November, which is what election rules called for in the event of a tie in the state's open primary, where the top two finishers regardless of party advance to the general election. Having three candidates on the ballot would have been a first since California moved to the open primary in 2010.

But a voter requested a recount at the deadline to do so. The voter, Jonathan Padilla, is a former staffer to Liccardo when he was mayor and a former Democratic Party delegate for President Joe Biden. He requested the recount on behalf of Low, who denied that he wanted one.

A political action committee set up by Padilla paid for the recount, which cost thousands of dollars per day. Padilla has not said who has donated to the PAC.

Liccardo, who is holding a canvassing event Saturday with his supporters to knock on voters' doors, has denied coordinating with Padilla on the recount. He thanked Simitian in a May 1 post on X for "running a principled, dignified campaign that highlighted his many substantial accomplishments as a leader."

Working with him the last several years has "been an honor," added Liccardo, "and we've been fortunate to have his intelligent and independent leadership in service to our community."

Updated, 5/2/24: This article has been updated with comments from Joe Simitian, Sam Liccardo, and the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund.

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