One candidate running for an open Silicon Valley congressional seat is getting support from the national stage.
U.S. Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is endorsing Palo Alto Councilmember Julie Lythcott-Haims in her campaign for California’s 16th congressional district. Booker is the first African-American senator from New Jersey and previously served as mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013.
“I’ve known Julie for 35 years and I’m confident that she’ll be an outstanding representative for this district and for all Americans,” Booker said in a statement. “I’m proud to endorse her campaign for Congress.”
Booker is the first U.S. senator to endorse in the crowded race to succeed retiring Silicon Valley Rep. Anna Eshoo. Despite a rise in national politics, Booker has some local Bay Area ties—he went to college and played football at Stanford, which is located in the congressional district. Lythcott-Haims is an educator and former Stanford dean.
While Eshoo has not yet endorsed a successor, she previously told San José Spotlight that women have a different perspective and she hopes to see more women and immigrants at the political table.
Lythcott-Haims, 56, is the only woman in the highly-anticipated race. There are 152 women in the current Congress, representing 28% of the 535 seats in both houses, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Eighteen of those women are from California.
The Palo Alto policymaker is also the only Black and queer woman running for Eshoo’s seat. Lythcott-Haims will face off with more than a dozen candidates, including well-known and formidable politicos like Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, Assemblymember Evan Low and former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. Marine veteran and tech executive Peter Dixon also jumped into the race.
Lythcott-Haims, who was elected to the Palo Alto council in 2022, said she admires Booker’s leadership and how he’s devoted his life to serving others. Booker unsuccessfully ran for president in 2020.
“Cory’s faith in me as a candidate means a lot—he knows that our district needs a progressive leader who leads with head and heart to make things better for our kids and our neighbors,” she said. “And I’m running to be that representative.”
While endorsements aren’t the only factor in a successful campaign, they can boost voter confidence and credibility in a competitive contest.
Simitian launched his much-expected congressional bid with endorsements from more than 130 elected officials—all mayors and councilmembers from cities across the district, including San Jose, Campbell and Mountain View. Low announced endorsements from a few key members of Congress: Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna, as well as Reps. Judy Chu and Mark Takano.
Liccardo has not released official endorsements. Dixon lists six House representatives as endorsers, though none are from California.
The nationally-watched contest to replace Eshoo is expected to break the bank. It’s the first open congressional race in Silicon Valley in more than two decades.
Liccardo recently announced raising $1.1 million ahead of the March primary. Simitian boasted $680,000 raised, though he’s been building his war chest for years in anticipation of a congressional run. Dixon said his campaign has already raised $350,000. Low announced raising $300,000 in 48 hours.
Lythcott-Haims, who’s also a lawyer and author, announced netting $250,000 in two days. Official fundraising figures will be released in January after the reporting period closes on Dec. 31.
California’s 16th congressional district covers parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties including Los Altos, Campbell, Los Gatos, Mountain View and parts of San Jose and unincorporated communities.
The primary election is March 5, a short timeline for a major political race. Political analysts say name recognition and demographics will play a key role in determining Silicon Valley’s next congressional representative. While the district is generally wealthy, older and white, Asian residents comprise 22% of likely voters. The leading candidates are all Democrats.
“It’s a very liberal district,” political observer Larry Gertson previously told San José Spotlight. “Voters are looking for somebody who’s pro choice, pro gay rights, universal health care—all the kinds of things that good progressive, liberal Democrats believe in.”