Obama backs local State Senate candidate Ann Ravel
Ann Ravel at her home is Los Gatos on February 18. Photo by Aliyah Mohammed

State Senate candidate and attorney Ann Ravel’s list of supporters now includes a prominent national voice and a former U.S. president – Barack Obama.

Ravel is set to face off against Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese for the open District 15 seat, which includes San Jose, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, after Sen. Jim Beall terms out this year.

While she said the announcement was a surprise this morning, the news isn’t entirely out of the blue. Obama appointed Ravel in 2013 to serve in his administration, where she served as the head of the Federal Election Commission.

Ravel also sat as the chair of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, where she worked against dark money allegations, and previously served as Santa Clara County’s chief attorney.

“Together, these candidates will help us redeem our country’s promise by sticking up for working class people, restoring fairness and opportunity to our system, and fighting for the good of all Americans — not just those at the top,” Obama wrote in a Medium post. “They make me optimistic not just about our party’s chances in November, but about our country’s future long after that.”

Ravel said she hopes the endorsement shows she and Obama have similar values.

“It means a lot to me that he has faith for what I had done in the administration and what I’m going to do when I’m in the State Senate,” Ravel told San José Spotlight. “As you can see from the list, most of the people were not at the state level so I think that it is a particularly important honor for me.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also recently voiced his support for Ravel, stemming from her focus on accountability and transparency.

“Ann Ravel’s groundbreaking career is a demonstration of her tenacity, independence and commitment to serving the people,” Liccardo said. “In these tough times we need strong and independent representatives like Ann Ravel.”

Other local supporters include County Assessor Larry Stone, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Supervisors Joe Simitian and Susan Ellenberg – Cortese’s current colleagues.

She also snagged support from San Jose councilmembers Johnny Khamis, Dev Davis, Lan Diep and Pam Foley, in addition to Congresswoman Katie Porter, 10 incumbent members of the California legislature and the Silicon Valley Organization.

Ravel came in second behind Cortese during the March primary, earning 22% of the vote.

But now as one of only 11 Democratic candidates Obama is backing in upcoming state elections, Ravel said Monday’s nod will make a big difference in the race, especially because many voters often don’t know local politicians.

“President Obama exemplifies, for me and I think for a lot of people, the kind of person that we need in government,” Ravel said. “It’s someone who has integrity, is doing what’s right for the people, is not histrionic, doesn’t say extreme things, tells the truth – all the things that are important to me as well.”

Contact Katie Lauer at [email protected] or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.

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