Dave Cortese scores endorsement from outgoing Sen. Jim Beall
Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese spoke to reporters at the County Government Building Friday. File photo.

    After remaining mum for months, outgoing San Jose Sen. Jim Beall has endorsed Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese in the neck-and-neck senate race, Cortese’s campaign confirmed late Thursday evening.

    The highly-anticipated decision came as the race between the local veteran lawmaker and Ann Ravel, the Obama-backed attorney, heats up in the last few weeks. Beall, who is termed out after eight years in the Senate, said he chose Cortese for his commitment to South Bay communities.

    “(Cortese) has the qualities and values I believe are important in Sacramento,” Beall’s statement reads. “He has a strong work ethic and has spent his entire career advocating on behalf of the residents of our district. … Dave’s commitment to equity and justice has shown me that he’s serious about restoring critical equal opportunity policies for all our residents.”

    Cortese, the top vote-getter in the primary election with 34% of the vote, in November faces Ravel, a first-time candidate who got 23% voter support.

    “I’m honored to have earned the support of Sen. Jim Beall,” Cortese said in a statement. “His commitment to public service has made our communities stronger, and I look forward to working as his partner to create new opportunities for all our families.”

    Ravel, a career attorney, chaired the Federal Election Commission under the previous administration and recently received the endorsement of former President Barack Obama. She said Thursday night that she understands Beall’s decision.

    “I have the greatest respect for Senator Beall, and he told me that he has over the last few years worked with Cortese on issues that he cares about and that was the reason for his decision to endorse,” Ravel said in a text message. “… I would have liked a different decision, but I am not disappointed.”

    Beall has remained quiet about who he would want to replace him and remained neutral in the primary election. His decision came one day after Ravel had to defend herself against claims that she opposes Proposition 16, a bill that would repeal California’s 24-year ban on affirmative action.

    “I am being subjected to a political smear campaign which merits an immediate response,” she posted on Facebook Aug. 12. “I am a strong supporter of Proposition 16, and have endorsed it publicly.”

    The issue started when Ravel spoke at an event in Campbell hosted by a campaign opposing affirmative action, the group’s Facebook video shows in July. While Ravel told the crowd that she’s “with them” in creating equal opportunities, she said at the event she doesn’t agree with the movement. She was briefly heckled by an attendee and left.

    Ravel also appeared on a virtual event hosted by the same group a day after the rally. She gave an introduction and remained silent for the rest of the discussion.

    “I believe in going to any group to talk to constituents to discuss issues and give my views,” Ravel said Wednesday. “I was naive in thinking that I could change minds.”

    Ravel also told San José Spotlight that she was clear with the organizers that she doesn’t support their movement. Despite her statements, the “No on Prop. 16” campaign featured Ravel in a recent ad and edited her speech so that she appears to oppose the bill and support the group.

    “It is concerning for me, because this is an issue that I care deeply about and have for a long time,” Ravel told San José Spotlight Wednesday night. “And I do not like to be portrayed falsely.”

    Ravel has repeatedly stated her support for affirmative action––in a recent interview with CreaTV San Jose and in a June statement. She also took on three lawsuits defending affirmative action; one of which was before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987.

    “If I didn’t believe in this issue, I would not have taken on these cases,” Ravel said.

    Cortese and Ravel will face off for the Senate District 15 seat on Nov. 3.

    Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

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