Former Marine enters Silicon Valley congressional race
Peter Dixon of Portola Valley is running for Rep. Anna Eshoo's seat in California's 16th congressional district. Photo courtesy of Dixon for Congress.

A political newcomer with a background in the military and tech world is jumping into the race for Silicon Valley Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s seat, and has already raised a significant chunk of cash to back his effort.

Peter Dixon, 40, says his experience of service in the Marine Corps, the U.S. Department of State and his work as a co-founder of a cybersecurity company gives him a solid foundation to continue serving the country as a congressmember.

“The greatest honor of my life has been serving my country as a Marine, it’s kind of a cornerstone of who I am,” Dixon told San José Spotlight.

Dixon was born in San Francisco and raised in Atherton. He now lives in Portola Valley with his wife and three daughters. The veteran said a big part of his motivation to run for Congress is his concern for the world his daughters will inherit, with the looming threat of another Donald Trump presidency backed by “MAGA Republicans.”

“It feels like that is getting decided in the next two to five years, not the next 10 to 20 years,” Dixon said. “I really do think this is for all the table stakes, everything is on the line here over the next few years, holding the line on the fundamental tenets of democracy. Having fought for it overseas, I’m willing and able to fight for it again here at home.”

Dixon hasn’t yet announced any endorsements. His team said his campaign raised $350,000 in donations within the first 24 hours after he announced his candidacy on Dec. 7.

While Dixon was in the Marines, he had deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and later worked in the State Department during the Obama Administration to curtail rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and combat cartel violence in Juarez, Mexico, he said.

He later co-founded Second Front Systems, a cybersecurity company aimed at helping the U.S. government adopt newer technologies and services faster, to increase efficiency.

Dixon said he has first-hand experience seeing the damage that can be inflicted by assault weapons, and plans to advocate for gun control and other key Democratic issues, such as protecting reproductive rights.

He said he hopes to use his experience in technology and national defense to help the government save hundreds of millions of dollars, through more efficient use of new services and elimination of outdated bureaucratic processes. He wants to redirect those dollars back into efforts to support housing, education and ending homelessness in the region.

Dixon is one of several candidates fighting for votes in California’s 16th congressional district, including longtime local politicians like Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and state Assemblymember Evan Low, among others.

Dixon said he is ready to take his message directly to voters.

“Growing up here in the valley, you really learn two things. One is you have to have the big idea, which everybody knows. The second part of that comes down to execution and just shoe leather, you’ve got to put in the hours and the hard work, and that’s what this campaign is going to do,” he said.

Larry Gerston, a political observer and San Jose State political science professor emeritus, said there is “a plethora of tremendously qualified” candidates in the race for Eshoo’s seat. He said there are a variety of reasons someone might run for Congress, even with no prior political experience.

“There are some candidates who are not very well known at all, and it may well be that their motive is not to get elected, as much as it is to get their name out there, perhaps for a future office, a lower office, whether it be in a city, county, or state Assembly,” Gerston told San José Spotlight.

Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter. 

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