Silicon Valley Rep. Eshoo demands transparency in recount
Rep. Anna Eshoo is pictured in this file photo with former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. Liccardo is running to replace her in Congress.

Like the rest of the country, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo watched in awe as two candidates tied in a heated race to replace her, triggering a request from a Silicon Valley political operative to fund a six-figure recount.

The veteran lawmaker is calling for transparency around who is funding that recount — a process expected to cost more than $400,000 between two counties.

”Who is actually paying for this, and under what auspices?” Eshoo told San José Spotlight  “The voters of my congressional district deserve to know this, just as I have always been required to disclose amounts of money and from whom.”

The race for Congressional District 16 took a stunning turn when Assemblymember Evan Low and Supervisor Joe Simitian — two longtime Silicon Valley politicians — earned the exact same number of votes in the March 5 primary election. That outcome means both candidates will appear on the November ballot alongside the top vote getter, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Having three candidates on the general election ballot instead of two is extraordinary in Silicon Valley, and presents a disadvantage for Liccardo by forcing him to split votes among two other contenders.

While Liccardo’s campaign has remained mum about the tie, the former mayor jokingly posted on social media it was “a good time to buy a lottery ticket” in the congressional district. But Liccardo’s loyalists could be attempting to change his unlucky outcome.

Liccardo’s campaign raised the most money in the primary election with $2,206,228 as of Feb. 14. Simitian raised $1,008,735 and Low raised $1,369,552 during the same time period.

Jonathan Padilla, one of Liccardo’s longtime supporters, filed a request to recount the ballots by hand hours before a Tuesday deadline.

That process is expected to take 10 days and cost $320,000 in Santa Clara County. It will cost an estimated $85,000 in San Mateo County.

Padilla, a longtime Silicon Valley political insider, previously worked for former District 4 San Jose Councilmember Manh Nguyen — who also demanded a recount when he narrowly lost reelection in 2016. Padilla worked on Liccardo’s 2014 campaign for mayor.

Padilla did not respond to questions about who is funding the nearly half-a-million dollar recount, which is expected to begin Monday.

A recount has also been requested in San Mateo County by Dan Stegink, a former San Mateo County supervisor candidate. Stegink reportedly asked the county to fund part of the effort, which is not typical.

A recount could change the outcome of the closely watched race. Simitian and Low both earned exactly 30,249 votes in a race with more than 182,000 ballots cast. Any miscounted votes in favor of one candidate will knock the other off the November ballot, giving Liccardo the advantage of facing only one rival in November.

Eshoo, who has publicly endorsed Simitian, said voters in her congressional district deserve to know the truth.

“The gentlemen behind this should be absolutely forthcoming about this,” Eshoo said Wednesday.

Elected officials and candidates are required to publicly disclose their donors regularly, Eshoo added, and the financial forces behind the costly recount effort should be held to the same standard.

“There should be full transparency about who is paying for it,” she said. “Where is the money coming and from whom? The voters of my district deserve to know that.”

Contact Ramona Giwargis at [email protected] or follow @RamonaGiwargis on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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