A man sitting in a chair with a flag in the background
Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo discussing his two terms in office during an interview with San José Spotlight on Dec. 14, 2022. Photo by Joseph Geha.

It appears former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is likely all in for the congressional race—and he’s already got a fundraiser coming up.

Liccardo, who termed out last December after two mayoral terms, has hinted at his aspirations for higher office. But an email obtained by San José Spotlight shows he is already actively campaigning for the seat being vacated by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

Eshoo is retiring at the end of her term in 2024 after three decades in office, as first reported by San José Spotlight.

An email sent by Cooper Teboe, a political operative and founder of CDT Strategies, touts Liccardo’s accomplishments and invites donors to his Portola Valley home this Sunday to support the former mayor’s congressional bid.

“I would love to invite you to come meet him and encourage you to donate to his campaign (I am personally giving a maxout donation),” Teboe wrote in the email sent to an undisclosed number of recipients late Monday. “Please let me know if you can make it.”

An email sent by Cooper Teboe, a political operative and founder of CDT Strategies, touts former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s accomplishments and invites donors to his Portola Valley home this Sunday to support Liccardo’s congressional bid.

Teboe is also a senior advisor to Congressman Ro Khanna, raising questions about whether the prominent Silicon Valley Democrat will endorse Liccardo to join him in the House.

Teboe told San José Spotlight he anticipates raising more than $250,000 on Sunday to support Liccardo. He insists he isn’t officially working on Liccardo’s campaign, but a deal could be in the works.

“Sam is the definitive presence in this race,” Teboe said. “More importantly to me, he’s been a good friend to my wife and I for years. I think he did a great job as mayor and he’ll do an even better job as congressman.”

But Liccardo said he is still deciding if he wants to run.

“I am still in the process of calling community leaders and supporters to talk about how the federal government can better address the many critical issues—such as homelessness, housing affordability, crime, climate change, and the innovation economy,” Liccardo told San José Spotlight. “And I am grateful for their good ideas and encouragement.”

The 53-year-old politician has been paving his path to Washington, D.C. for several years. In February, a mysterious poll gauged how Liccardo would do in a congressional race. At the time, it appeared he might’ve challenged veteran Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, however he decided against it after Lofgren rebuked his attempts to unseat her.

“I plan to run and I don’t usually run to lose,” Lofgren told San José Spotlight at the time.

Before entering politics, Liccardo was an assistant district attorney, sporting a law degree from Harvard University. Liccardo now teaches one course per year as a part-time lecturer at Stanford Law School.

Liccardo led San Jose during some of its most tumultuous times – entering office in 2014 as the city recovered from an economic downturn and a barrage of union lawsuits over a controversial 2012 voter-approved pension reform measure Liccardo supported as a councilmember. He vowed to defend the measure as a councilmember, but quickly compromised with unions in his first term as mayor to avoid a protracted legal fight. The compromise rescinded parts of the measure that clawed back pensions.

Soon after, he dealt with massive flooding in 2017, along with rolling blackouts, deadly wildfires and skyrocketing homelessness. He found himself in the spotlight when the city reeled from a mass shooting at a VTA rail yard and an unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered local businesses.

Liccardo was known for having a more business-friendly position on council – supporting tax breaks for downtown high-rises and spearheading a move to sell public land to Google, the largest land use project in city history that’s since been delayed.

Liccardo made national headlines for his landmark gun safety policy, which requires San Jose gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee. The plan has yet to be implemented after a legal fight from gun rights groups. He’s also championed a fight against PG&E after the utility giant failed to maintain its equipment and proposed hefty rate hikes. While the rate hikes were approved, San Jose is considering creating a publicly-owned power utility.

This news organization and the First Amendment Coalition successfully sued Liccardo and the city over his frequent use of personal email accounts and texts to conduct public business. Despite a 2017 California Supreme Court ruling – stemming from a case in San Jose – declaring those communications are public, Liccardo intentionally deleted an email from his public account and directed a resident to his personal Gmail to skirt disclosure. Many of those emails were improperly withheld.

On Tuesday, San Jose policymakers unanimously approved a $500,000 settlement after a judge found Liccardo and the city violated the law by failing to adequately search for records on private accounts and devices.

Other candidates potentially eyeing the Congressional District 16 seat are California Sen. Josh Becker, Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

Liccardo has not yet filed papers with the Federal Election Commission or established a campaign committee. Teboe said he plans to create an exploratory committee this week.

This story will be updated.

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

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