Poll: San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis leads Senate race

A new poll obtained by San José Spotlight shows San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis gaining steam in the crowded Senate race to replace Jim Beall next year.

The poll, which was funded by Khamis’ campaign, shows him garnering support from 22 percent of likely voters who were surveyed. A similar poll six months ago, funded by his opponent Supervisor Dave Cortese, put Khamis in second place with 19 percent support and showed Cortese leading his rivals by 13 points.

The new poll, conducted by Khamis’ consultant, James Fisfis of Chariot Campaigns, surveyed 400 likely 2020 California Senate District 15 primary election voters. It found Cortese and former Assemblywoman Nora Campos tied for second place, each earning 15 percent support. Former FEC chair Ann Ravel came in last place, according to the poll, with 8 percent.

But a whopping 36 percent of those voters said they “don’t know” who they will support.

After the pollster read “short positive biographies” of all the candidates, Khamis’ lead reportedly spiked to 25 percent; Campos crept up to 19 percent; Cortese fell to third place with 16 percent and Ravel garnered 11 percent. Twenty-five percent of voters said they still don’t know who to support.

Khamis, who left the Republican Party last June due to President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, is now running as a “no party preference” candidate. That, according to the poll, appears to fare well with likely 2020 voters.

“Our just-completed survey shows that a strong centrist NPP candidate can compete with a progressive Democrat in Senate District 15,” Fisfis said.

According to the poll, 49 percent of voters favored a “centrist nonpartisan candidate who will work with those with differing viewpoints” while 43 percent said they’ll support a “Democrat who says they will govern primarily from the progressive side.”

“It’s time to change the dialogue at the state from blame to partnership,” Khamis told San José Spotlight on Friday. “From higher taxes and fees to finding efficiencies and from restrictive regulations to innovation, we are happy our message is resonating.”

In response to the new poll, Campos said she’s represented Silicon Valley for 16 years, and it’s “rewarding to see that people still respect the work I’ve done.”

Cortese said he’s unclear about the methodology used in Khamis’ poll, but added that he has “tremendous confidence” in his pollster, EMC Research, which is “one of the top firms in the state.”

Ravel could not immediately be reached for comment. A fifth candidate, Tim Gildersleeve, was not mentioned in the poll.

 

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