Evan Low beats Joe Simitian for 2nd place, will face Sam Liccardo in District 16 congressional race

Sam Liccardo and Evan Low will face off in November in District 16 congressional race to replace Anna Eshoo who is retiring

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Thursday, May 2, 2024
Evan Low beats Joe Simitian for second place in CA District 16 race
The recount process is now finished in the District 16 congressional race following a tie for who would face the first place finisher Sam Liccardo.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The recount process is now finished in the contentious District 16 congressional race, following a tie for who would face the first place finisher, Sam Liccardo, this November.

With final results released Wednesday, the race will see former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo facing off against State Assembly Member Evan Low.

Low was initially tied with Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

RELATED: CA's District 16 congressional race nears end on unusual ballot recount

On Tuesday, Santa Clara County released its final results showing Evan Low gaining eleven extra votes and Joe Simitian gained seven, meaning that Low led Simitian in that county by 4 votes.

San Mateo County hadn't reported final results until Wednesday evening.

Though an initial rescan of the votes in San Mateo County showed no change in results, there were 16 challenged ballots that were under review that could have changed the outcome.

MORE: Bay Area Rep. Anna Eshoo says she's not running for reelection after over 30 years in Congress

Jim Irizarry, the county's assistant chief elections officer said Wednesday that they accepted seven of the 16 challenged ballots leading Evan Low to pick up one more vote and Joe Simitian gaining no additional votes.

Between the two counties, Low beat Simitian by five votes.

Low released this statement on X and spoke with ABC7 just after the final results were released.

"This was a nail biter for many of us," Low said, "In fact, I think I've mentioned before, that I would personally experience, go into the grocery store and as I'm picking out some fruits and vegetables, one person says, 'Congratulations, you're up today' and the person who overhears next to us says 'No, today, he's down'. And so it is living that experience. I'm glad that every vote mattered, and that we are headed into this November election."

Multiple candidates ran in the March 5 primary to replace retiring Anna Eshoo.

RELATED: Recount requested in CA's District 16 Congressional primary race

Though the primary was meant to come down to two candidates, it instead came down to three.

"We have the top two primary system in California, and we ended up with two candidates exactly tied for second place, this means that three people would go to the runoff in November instead of two," said Melinda Jackson, Professor of Political Science at San Jose State University.

Sam Liccardo won first place by a wide margin and for weeks it was unclear if Evan Low or Joe Simitian won second place until the results revealed the tie for second.

Though it seemed that all three would go to the November ballot, a recount was requested.

"It was a voter requested recount," said Evelyn Mendez, a spokesperson with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, "There's not an automatic recount, if the recount spans across more than one county. So in this instance, it was San Mateo County and our county."

The requester was Jonathan Padilla.

RELATED: Here's how much a recount costs in tied District 16 congressional race and who requested it

According to his LinkedIn profile, he was a policy and finance director for Liccardo's 2014 San Jose Mayoral campaign.

He requested the recount on behalf of Low.

Low's campaign said they are not connected with him, insisting Padilla is acting on behalf of Liccardo's campaign.

But in this San Jose Inside Op-ed Liccardo said he did not request the recount and said that neither he or anyone in his campaign communicated with Padilla.

The Santa Clara County Registrar's office said recount observers challenged 45 uncounted ballots.

The registrar determined that seven of them that were initially uncounted were valid.

The mixup with that batch had to do with signature matching and boxes those voters forget to mark affirming their citizenship status.

RELATED: CA District 16 congressional race: Who raised most campaign funds, what they hope to bring to seat

There were also mixups with some other ballots.

"There were 12 ballots in a batch that weren't counted," Mendez said, "So that was the error, human error, we understand we're going to tighten the processes, but that happened in that ballot counting room, and they were able to fix that and count those ballots. "

In a statement Wednesday, Simitian conceded the race saying:

"The good news is the 16th congressional district's long painful exercise counting the votes is over! The not-so-good news: we have come up short. I lost, and I concede. I trust the process, and I accept the result. I am disappointed, but not sad. I'm disappointed on a personal level because I had looked forward to running in November and serving in Congress. I'm disappointed because I couldn't deliver a win for the oh-so-many folks who gave their time, effort, energy and resources to our campaign. And frankly, I'm disappointed because I won't have the opportunity to bring a fresh take to our nation's capital--where we urgently need a renewed sense of purpose, and a commitment to maintaining and sustaining our democracy. That said, I am not sad. I have a wonderful life, a wonderful wife, and satisfying work to engage me at the County. I want to congratulate Assemblymember Evan Low and former Mayor Sam Liccardo. I have spoken to them both to wish them well. I look forward to the lively campaign they will undoubtedly run. I want to thank the volunteers who traveled two counties to help "cure" uncounted ballots, and then monitored the recount over these past few weeks. In fact, I want to thank our entire campaign team, a team that gave its all. To all who supported me in this campaign for Congress, I am so grateful that you stood with me when I needed you. More grateful than I can say. Your generosity and persistence were extraordinary. It means a lot and it always will. Thank you. My confidence in our country's ability to renew and improve itself is not dimmed. I know that I am privileged to hold public office and I will do my best to honor that trust, helping people and solving problems until my last day in office."

Liccardo also issued statements on X Wednesday saying:

I commend the diligent efforts of our election officials to provide an accurate vote count. Despite the efforts of some to stop this recount, we should all celebrate that democracy prevailed. Previously uncounted votes were counted. We can now re-focus on our work ahead, toward solutions to our region's and nation's great challenges, such as homelessness, the high cost of living, climate change, public safety, and protecting reproductive rights.

I want to thank Joe Simitian for running a principled, dignified campaign that highlighted his many substantial accomplishments as a leader. It's been an honor to work with him the last several years, and we've been fortunate to have his intelligent and independent leadership in service to our community.