A crowd of people watching election results come in on election night
Assemblymember Evan Low, who is running for the Silicon Valley Congressional District 16 seat, at the South Bay Labor Council election night party on March 5, 2024. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

The No. 2 spot for the Silicon Valley congressional seat in the November election runoff is still up in the air.

Assemblymember Evan Low is steadily shrinking the gap between himself and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who sits in second place. As of Monday evening, Low is only 749 votes, or 0.5%, behind Simitian — close enough to potentially trigger a recount if he doesn’t move into second place.

Low and Simitian are two of 11 candidates vying to replace retiring Rep. Anna Eshoo for California’s 16th congressional district. Former Mayor Sam Liccardo, who leads the pack by a comfortable margin, is already in the November runoff. It will likely be a couple weeks before his opponent is confirmed.

About 20% of ballots have yet to be counted, according to estimates from The Associated Press.

It’s an extraordinary position, particularly for Simitian who confidently declared victory on Super Tuesday.

“Every vote counts and every vote has to be counted. That’s the nature of our process, and that’s as it should be,” Simitian told San José Spotlight. “Having said that, we were in the top two on election night and have been in the top two every day for the last seven days that we’ve had reports…So I am confident and optimistic but, we’ll wait for the results.”

Low, on the other hand, remains hopeful and believes he has a chance to secure second place.

“To me, no matter the ultimate outcome, the closeness of this race shows that your vote truly matters,” Low told San José Spotlight. “Your vote can have a real impact on who represents your community.”

Low’s percentage has continued to increase because he has been able to secure a majority of late votes from ballots mailed or dropped off on Election Day in Santa Clara County. These voters tend to be younger, more progressive and people of color — voters more likely to choose a young Asian American like Low, according to Brian Parvizshahi, founder of political consulting firm Axial Media and Communications. He managed Rep. Ro Khanna’s successful congressional campaign to unseat former Congressmember Mike Honda in 2016, among other South Bay campaigns.

“There is a world where Evan can come back,” Parvizshahi told San José Spotlight. “It came down to the moderate candidates cannibalizing each other, like Liccardo, Simtian, Peter Dixon and Peter Ohtaki, which allows Evan, who’s much more progressive, to close the gap.”

Low is leading the late vote share with 18.6% in comparison to Simitian’s 16% in Santa Clara County. However in San Mateo County, Simitian is leading the late vote count with 18% to Low’s 12.8% — which may be Low’s achilles heel.

San Mateo County makes up a quarter of the total vote share in comparison to Santa Clara County for the congressional district. But Low will have to win at least 20% of the roughly 16,000 ballots remaining in Santa Clara County and 13% of the 9,000 ballots left in San Mateo County to squeeze Simitian out, Parvizshahi said.

“This isn’t unrealistic. This last batch, Evan had about 19.5% of the vote and Joe had 12.6%,” Parvizshahi said. “The question is will it continue.”

Parvizshahi estimates when all ballots are counted, Low will actually be 300-500 votes behind Simitian. With counts so close, candidates can ask for a recount, which means it will likely be weeks before candidates headed to the general election are confirmed.

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

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