The new congressional lines drawn by an independent committee have given San Jose new political clout. Instead of two representatives, the city will enjoy the clout of four—all with different, but complimentary strengths.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren will remain dean of the delegation and her power has never been greater. A close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lofgren has been at the forefront of impeachment hearings and the committee investigating former President Donald Trump, his attempted coup, insurrection, incitement of violence and destruction and theft of government property.
Lofgren’s new district will run south and she will lose part of San Jose. She will have to introduce herself to new constituents all the way to Salinas. Her new district is heavily Latino, but she has tremendous support from that community. Her status as chair on the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship is also a huge plus in her new district. But she will travel more, as will all of her colleagues.
When the congresswoman decides to retire, look for this to become a solidly Democratic district with a Latino representative.
Rep. Jimmy Panetta will now represent part of San Jose, including Almaden, Cambrian and portions of Evergreen. San Jose will now encompass about one third of his district by population. Those who are used to the terrific constituent services offered by Congresswoman Lofgren will see no drop in service.
Panetta works hard for his constituents. He plays less in the media, but has a tremendous work ethic. His district shoots over the Santa Cruz Mountains and heads toward Monterey and San Luis Obispo. He believes 55% of his constituents are new, but he has a solid base of support in the Monterey area. And his diverse district represents both Santa Cruz and SLO.
Panetta also has the support of his father, Leon, who served the same district in Congress—and as former White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton and CIA director under former President Barack Obama. Panetta has contacts that will serve Silicon Valley well, and he’s a Santa Clara University of Law graduate, so he is not unfamiliar with the valley.
He’s already meeting with his new constituents in San Jose.
Rep. Anna Eshoo will represent parts of west San Jose. Another ally of Speaker Pelosi, she too has long represented the interests of Silicon Valley. She serves on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee and is a member of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
All of these representatives will help introduce each other to their new constituencies. Eshoo will have the easiest time of all as she has long represented northern Santa Clara County.
Rep. Ro Khanna will represent part of East San Jose and Berryessa, as well as part of Alameda County including Fremont. A heavily Asian district, which suits him just fine. Khanna is the most progressive of all the legislators; he is a member of the progressive caucus and a former chair for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
But Khanna proved he could be a team player when he helped build bridges from the Sanders wing of the party to President Joe Biden. In addition, his former work with President Obama gives him clout with his brethren in Congress.
Together, these four lawmakers will give Silicon Valley and specifically San Jose new clout as decisions are made. If they can get high speed rail to Diridon Station in this decade, we will all applaud the new district boundaries.
San José Spotlight columnist Rich Robinson is a political consultant, attorney and author of “The Shadow Candidate.” His columns appear every fourth Wednesday of the month.