As far as anyone knew, San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio planned to term out after a decade in public office and return to the tech industry.
So he took just about everyone off guard when he filed papers Friday to run for 17th Congressional District against eight-term Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) and perennial rival Ro Khanna.
The District 6 councilman’s name comes up on Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters candidate list, which shows that he plunked down the $1,740 filing fee. The Mercury News first reported the filing.
“I planned on going back to tech full time,” said Oliverio, who spent 20-plus years marketing semiconductors before his election to public office. “But after observing all the mud-slinging from the two major candidates instead of talking about the major concerns for the country, I decided to jump in.”
Oliverio joins five other candidates hoping to unseat Honda in one of the highest-profile House races in the nation. Honda, who has held political office for 25 years, lost President Barack Obama’s endorsement but came away from this past weekend with official backing from the California Democratic Party.
But Honda’s reputation has been sullied by a House ethics investigation and a legal defense funded by campaign donations.
Oliverio, a Democrat, said he’d rather not comment on the incumbent or Khanna, a Fremont-based attorney and former Obama administration appointee.
“People run for Congress as if they’re running to be president,” Oliverio told San Jose Inside. “They say they want to ban this or fund billions of dollars for new programs. I mean, really? They’re running to be one of 435 representatives—that’s 434 other people who have a different view that you have to work with. So you go, you vote and you vote based on how you feel about certain subjects. Are you pro choice? Pro life? Pro industry or pro environment?”
Oliverio’s record beyond the politics of San Jose will require more vetting, but he is a Democrat and pro choice.
Also in the running for the D-17 seat are Kennita Watson, Stephen Forbes, Peter Kuo and Ronald Cohen.