US House race too close to call for CA's District 16; 2 candidates fighting for 2nd place

Zach Fuentes Image
Thursday, March 14, 2024
US House race too close to call for CA's district 16
California's 16th congressional district race is still too close to call as Joe Simitian and Evan Low are competing for second place.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Winners in some races of last week's primary election are still too close to call.

Second place in the 16th district congressional race is now at a razor thin margin.

Whoever wins second place will advance to November's runoff.

Sam Liccardo is in the lead at first place; he'll be one of the two candidates in November's general election.

For second place, the race flipped Wednesday evening with Evan Low moving ahead of Joe Simitian by 59 votes. Simitian held the lead since election night but Low has slowly chipped away.

MORE: Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo leading CA District 16 Congressional race for Anna Eshoo's seat

Liccardo, Low, and Simitian have been leaders in the race for the District 16 congressional seat.

The spot is opening up for the first time in more than 30 years as representative Anna Eshoo retires.

With Liccardo leading Low and Simitian by a relatively wide margin, the Associated Press already called the election in his favor, but the battle for second place is far from over.

Liccardo says he's grateful to be in the lead and says the tight race for second place shows the importance of voter turnout.

"The reality is, decisions are going to be made for you if you're not making the decisions," he said. "So I encourage everybody to get out there and vote in November, because as we're seeing here, from this March election, this is going to be decided by a very small number of votes, whoever my opponent is."

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

Simitian was confident on election night that he was clearly in the top two but the margin between him and Low has closed in the days since.

"What we're seeing now is a little bit of the votes that come in later, those last minute procrastinators who get their ballots in at the last minute," said Melinda Jackson, professor of political science at San Jose State University, "(They're) more likely to be younger voters, less engaged voters, and that seems to be trending toward Evan Low."

In a statement released Tuesday, Simitian said:

"Every vote counts, and every vote has to be counted. That's the nature of our process, and that's as it should be. Having said that, we were in the top two on election night and have been every day since. So, I'm confident and optimistic, but we'll wait for the results."

Evan Low also issued a statement saying in part: "To me, no matter the ultimate outcome, the closeness of this race shows that your vote truly matters. Your vote can have a real impact on who represents your community."

MORE: 1st ever congressional primary forum hosted by high school students in Silicon Valley

Depending on how close the votes end up being between the two candidates, Jackson said one of them could request a recount that they would have to pay for.

If the candidate who made the request wins, she said they would get that money back.

"We don't have an automatic recount process in California, where when it's within a certain margin, it automatically triggers a recount," Jackson said, "So I think it depends how close it is, at the end of the day, whether either of these candidates will choose to do that."

County elections officials have to complete final official results by April 4.

The California Secretary of State certifies election results April 12.

More stories on the 2024 California primary election here.

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