At the Kung Fu Direct and Aero Sports Association in industrial north San Jose, Daisy Chu could hardly contain her excitement. Absentee ballots at a minute past 8pm showed husband Kansen Chu seven percentage points ahead of runner-up Otto Lee.
A few-dozen attendees mingled, among them Undersheriff Rick Sung in a baby-blue Chu campaign T-shirt worn by several other people in the room.
An incumbent in California’s 25th Assembly District, Chu walked away from an easy re-election for a competitive race to succeed Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.
The demotion actually comes with a higher salary and allows Chu to end his Berryessa to Sactown commutes. “It’ll be nice to have him back,” said daughter Ann Chu, a mother of kids aged 5 and 7. “He’ll get to see more of his grandkids.”
Five-and-a-half miles to the north, Otto Lee and his loyal army of door-knockers smilee in a fluorescent-lit office at Milpitas’ McCarthy Ranch. From the looks of it, the contest for D3 puts Lee and Chu in a runoff, and that’s fine by Lee.
“We planned for that,” he said.
By the next morning, with nearly 90 percent of results posted, Chu garnered more than a third of the total vote count, a haul of 13,135 ballots, while Lee hung back at 28 percent.
San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco finished third at 24 percent and former Planning Commissioner John Leyba ended last with 14 percent of votes.
Despite his last-place finish, libertarian-leaning Leyba seemed in good spirits at his watch party, which he hosted at Alum Rock’s Pizza Maria.
Leyba’s loss must have hit his two daughters pretty hard, considering how the Alum Rock native promised to buy them pet dogs if he emerged victorious.
Sixty-seven-year-old Chu was endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council and raised $269,902 for his campaign from business owners, local leaders in the Asian American community and the mayors of Milpitas (Rich Tran) and Santa Clara (Lisa Gillmor).
Lee actually took the fundraising lead, finishing the most recent reporting period with $317,257 in contributions and endorsements from the Merc, county Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, the Silicon Valley Young Democrats and the League of Conservation Voters.