An unusual trend of Silicon Valley lawmakers endorsing political newcomers – instead of their own colleagues – has spread to statewide races.
San José Spotlight first reported on the shift last year, highlighting how San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and many other councilmembers backed outsiders over their council colleagues.
And in the crowded race for a state Senate seat in Silicon Valley, two out of five Santa Clara County supervisors are supporting attorney Ann Ravel over their colleague, Dave Cortese. Ravel has also snagged the backing of county Assessor Larry Stone and District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
Supervisor Joe Simitian last week joined Supervisor Susan Ellenberg to endorse Ravel for the District 15 State Senate seat.
“I’m supporting Ann Ravel for state Senate because I have seen her in action,” Simitian, a former state Senator, wrote in his endorsement Thursday. “She leads with tenacity and integrity, and she will fight tooth and nail to make a positive difference in the lives of all Californians.”
The former Federal Election Commission chair said she wasn’t shocked but “extremely happy” to win support from Simitian, who she worked with while serving as Santa Clara County’s Deputy County Counsel.
“What’s significant about this particular endorsement is that Joe has seen me work,” Ravel said. “He knows what my values are, and he knows what my opponent’s values are … Joe appreciates integrity and transparency, and that’s one of the reasons why he would support me.”
But Cortese said he isn’t losing sleep over it.
The longtime South Bay lawmaker said he’s not surprised by Simitian’s decision, considering the District 5 Supervisor’s wife, Mary Hughes, pushed Ravel to run for elected office as founder of Close the Gap California – a coalition working to increase the number of women elected to office.
While he said he doesn’t take that support lightly, the supervisor said he’s confident of the many endorsements he’s already received, including Congressman Ro Khanna, Senator Scott Wiener and Supervisor Cindy Chavez, among others.
“You always want to get every endorsement and you don’t want your opponents to get significant endorsements,” Cortese said, “but at this point in the race, we feel very good about how we’ve run the campaign.”
Additionally, he said this type of outside endorsing happened during his time on the San Jose City Council and the Board of Supervisors. While it may seem awkward to some, most lawmakers are used to it.
“We just kind of set aside the campaign politics when we’re in that building, and we know we have to deal with the various challenges facing the county,” Cortese said. “It’s not really disruptive, it’s just as they say: ‘It’s just politics.’”