Silicon Valley’s congressional race is shaping up to be one of the most expensive primaries this election cycle.
Candidates running to replace Rep. Anna Eshoo and represent California’s 16th congressional district have collectively raised nearly $6 million as of Jan. 31. The latest campaign filings show nearly 10% of that money has been spent, with fundraising likely to ramp up in the last five weeks before the March 5 primary.
Out of 11 candidates, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is leading fundraising efforts with more than $1.6 million raised.
“It’s clear voters and residents are responding to Sam’s call for Congress to do more to address homelessness, crime and the high cost of living,” a spokesperson with Liccardo’s campaign told San José Spotlight. “We are grateful for the support of thousands of residents who have joined our campaign through donating and volunteering their time and our momentum continues to grow as we head into early voting.”
Retired Marine Peter Dixon follows Liccardo with $1.4 million raised — though $575,000 of that is a personal loan Dixon gave to his campaign. He has spent nearly $170,000 to get his name out to voters.
Dixon is a non-politico who entered the race with $350,000 within 24 hours of announcing and sports the support of seven members of Congress — though none hail from California.
“I’ve been a lifelong public servant, rather than a career politician, and this amazing support from my neighbors, friends and community is pivotal to properly introducing myself to the voters,” Dixon told San José Spotlight.
Eshoo’s pick for the seat, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, has a total of $1.1 million in his warchest, campaign filings show. Nearly half of that has been slowly built up since 2009 and he’s raised $400,000 in the last quarter. Simitian has been preparing to take on the seat for years and his long list of endorsements from former and current councilmembers and mayors across the county reflects that. The supervisor has spent $155,000 so far.
“The campaign is right where it needs to be financially and has the resources to communicate Joe Simitian’s issues and plans to serve the district in Congress,” Kilian Mallon, Simitian’s campaign manager, told San José Spotlight. “The campaign is proud that the overwhelming number of donors are local and connected to the community. We look forward to continuing to tell the voters why over 200 locally-elected officials and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo believe that Joe is the best choice to represent our communities in Congress.”
Assemblymember Evan Low, who has been favored as one of the stronger candidates, didn’t break the million-dollar threshold — raising $890,000. Part of that includes a personal loan of $13,662. He has spent $52,000 so far.
Low had more than $2 million in his assemblymember campaign committee, but election laws prohibit transferring those donations to his congressional committee. And while Low may be fourth in fundraising overall, he has raised the second most dollars in the last quarter, following Liccardo.
“Evan Low is proud of all the support he has received in his run for Congress. He’s earned more congressional endorsements than any other candidate,” campaign spokesperson Clay Volino told San José Spotlight. “Evan’s strong financial base combined with grassroots enthusiasm and institutional support means he is well-positioned to win in March.”
Low has the sole endorsement of the California Labor Federation and had a 100% score from Planned Parenthood in 2023 as an assembymember. He is also endorsed by the International Association of Firefighters, Asian American Action Fund and California Sen. Laphonza Butler.
Julie Lythcott-Haims, a Palo Alto councilmember and New York Times bestselling author, is notably behind the other candidates with nearly $375,000 raised — but it’s a number she’s proud of. She has spent about $44,000 so far.
“I haven’t been preparing to run for this seat for decades. I’m not a career politician,” Lythcott-Haims said. “It’s clear to me that voters in this district don’t want the politics of the past, they want a candidate for the future. Someone who will be unafraid to take on tough fights and push for real progress on the issues that matter.”
To her, those issues are protecting abortion access, common sense gun safety to keep kids safe, affordable health care that everyone can access and putting the cost of living in line with wages and salaries.
The remaining six candidates have raised approximately $125,000 or less, with some not reporting any campaign contributions. To follow the money this election season, check out San José Spotlight’s campaign donations tracker.
Contact Jana at [email protected] or follow @Jana_Kadah on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified when Low earned a 100% score card from Planned Parenthood due to a source error. He earned it last year when he was in the Assembly.