Another U.S. senator weighs in on Silicon Valley congressional race
State Assemblymember Evan Low is running for Congresswoman Anna Eshoo's seat. Photo courtesy of Evan Low's office.

The country’s top political leaders are weighing in on who should fill an open Silicon Valley congressional seat.

California Sen. Laphonza Butler is the latest national leader to voice who should represent the state’s 16th congressional district — and her pick is Assemblymember Evan Low. Gov. Gavin Newsom selected Butler to fill the seat in the wake of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s passing last year, but Butler chose not to run.

“As a person of color and LGBTQ+ individual, I know how important it is that Congress has more diverse voices,” Butler said in a statement. “That is why I am supporting Evan Low’s history making campaign to serve as the first openly LGBTQ+ and Chinese American member of Congress from Silicon Valley.”

Butler is the second U.S. senator to endorse in a crowded field of candidates vying to succeed retiring Silicon Valley Rep. Anna Eshoo. The first was Sen. Cory Booker, who endorsed Palo Alto Councilmember Julie Lythcott-Haims in December.

Low said receiving Butler’s endorsement is a “tremendous honor” and a “significant moment” for his campaign.

“Sen. Butler’s relentless advocacy for working families and reproductive rights aligns deeply with the core values of our community,” Low said in a statement. “Together, we will continue to fight for working families, protect abortion rights and ensure all Californians have a seat at the table.”

Low is facing more than a dozen candidates, including well-known and formidable politicos such as Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. Marine veteran and tech executive Peter Dixon and other past elected officials such as former Saratoga Councilmember Rishi Kumar have also jumped into the race.

Of all the candidates, Low remains the only congressional candidate to receive endorsements from California statewide officials, according to his campaign. Low is endorsed by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and State Treasurer Fiona Ma. He also snagged the support of Reps. Ro Khanna, Judy Chu and Mark Takano early in the race.

Simitian launched his much-expected congressional bid with endorsements from more than 150 elected officials — all mayors and councilmembers from cities across the district, including San Jose, Campbell and Mountain View.

Liccardo has not released any official endorsements — though his team said the list will be released soon. Dixon said his list of endorsements includes six House representatives, though none are from California.

Eshoo has yet to announce an endorsement. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a progressive stalwart from neighboring District 18, has also remained silent.

Political observers say endorsements will help candidates secure votes — but the top two vote getters in the March 5 primary will be those with the most name recognition and can raise the most money going into the November elections.

The nationally watched contest to replace Eshoo is expected to break the bank. It’s the first open congressional race in Silicon Valley in more than two decades.

Liccardo recently announced raising $1.1 million ahead of the March primary. Simitian boasts $680,000 raised, though he’s been building his war chest for years in anticipation of a congressional run. Dixon said his campaign has already raised $350,000. Low announced raising $300,000 in 48 hours.

Lythcott-Haims, who’s also a lawyer and author, announced netting $250,000 in two days. Official fundraising figures will be released at the end of January.

But it’s not all about money. Political observers say demographics will play a key role in determining Silicon Valley’s next congressional representative. While the district is generally wealthy, older and white, Asian residents comprise 22% of likely voters, which observers say could give Low a leg up.

Voters elected Low to the state Assembly in 2014. He served as the past chair of the LGBTQ+ Legislative Caucus and chairs the Asian American & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. Before that, he served as a councilmember and mayor in Campbell.

Contact Jana at [email protected] or follow @Jana_Kadah on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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