San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo gives his last State of the City address in front of a live crowd in September 2022.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo gives his last State of the City address in front of a live crowd in September 2022. Photo by Jana Kadah.

One San Jose congresswoman may be fending off a challenge from former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in the next election.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, up for reelection in 2024, said she received a call from Liccardo last week, letting her know he is considering running for her or Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s seat. Lofgren represents the downtown and East San Jose areas, south past Morgan Hill and Salinas to King City. Eshoo represents parts of South San Jose and Willow Glen, as well as Los Gatos, Campbell, Santa Cruz and up the peninsula past San Mateo to Pacifica.

The call came after San José Spotlight reported on a poll gaging how Liccardo would fare if he ran for Congress. Lofgren said Liccardo also told her he paid for the poll.

“(Liccardo) said he was assessing his options. He wants to be in Congress… And I told him it’s a free country. He can run if he wants,” Lofgren told San José Spotlight. “But I plan to run and I don’t usually run to lose.”

Lofgren said she wasn’t surprised Liccardo called her. He called her two years ago to ask if and when she was going to retire—expressing a desire for the seat.

The 75-year-old congresswoman said she will retire in the near future, but has no plans yet. She’d like to follow through on immigration reform and allocating research funding to the energy fusion plant in Livermore before leaving public office.

Liccardo previously told San José Spotlight he wouldn’t run for Congress unless there was an open seat, but his conversation with Lofgren, and the recent poll, suggest otherwise. He said he hasn’t made any decisions yet.

“I’m considering several options right now about how to best serve our community,” Liccardo told San José Spotlight.

Larry Gerston, San Jose State University political science professor emeritus, said Liccardo is a “class act” for calling Lofgren and admitting he paid for the poll. But the former mayor has a hard road ahead of him if he tries to challenge her. He said Liccardo will have to consider which district he’d have more support in and who he could out-fundraise—a difficult feat because Lofgren and Eshoo are both well connected. Lofgren already has at least $1 million on hand and Eshoo has around $500,000, according to campaign filings. Liccardo has not filed to run.

“It’s always more likely that incumbents are able to hold on to their seats,” Gerston told San José Spotlight. “But (what) we should consider (is): is he really running for one of those seats or is he running to get his name out?”

Lofgren said she isn’t worried about a Liccardo run because she’s confident in her support base. Lofgren previously beat out Liccardo’s mentor, former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery, when they faced off in 1994. She said she was an underdog at that point, but now it’s a different race.

“Obviously, I’m not an underdog at this point. I have a record to run on. I’m proud of what I’ve done,” Lofgren said.

Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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