Ro Khanna failed to take on Pete Stark in 2012. When Eric Swalwell went forward and won the seat, Khanna missed out, as he believed he was the heir apparent. So following Swalwell’s model, he decided to take on Mike Honda. Both advanced in Tuesday's primary. But Honda is no Pete Stark—he’s one of the most popular elected officials in Santa Clara County.
Khanna was soundly trounced in Tuesday’s primary. He will get a second chance, but the body politic will not take him seriously this time around. Even millions of dollars can’t overcome a lifetime record of success.
Also, the leadership of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association refused to meet with Sheriff Laurie Smith before the election. (Full disclosure: I helped run her campaign.) A small cabal of disgruntled employees then led their misinformed membership off a cliff.
The DSA membership needs to take back its union. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to get their $1000 per member dues back that was wasted on a quixotic effort.
Rumor has it that supporters of Sam Liccardo talked to Rose Herrera into running for mayor, fearful that leaving Madison Nguyen as the lone female candidate would hurt their efforts in the primary. The backroom deal, as rumored, is that a “Mayor” Liccardo would back Herrera for State Assembly when Nora Campos leaves the capitol.
Regardless, there is no question that Herrera’s ability to garner 6.1 percent of the vote came from a demographic likely to support Nguyen. But Liccardo could also point to the 9.8 percent of the vote Pierluigi Oliverio received and claim the “spoilers” were a wash.
Susan Marsland and Kathy Sutherland presented lost opportunities. Both are solid candidates and would have made great councilmembers. But neither captured enough of the women’s vote to make the runoff.
In District 1, Paul Fong was always considered the frontrunner. In District 3, Raul Peralez simply outworked everyone else. It is a classic case of the ground game making a big difference in the outcome.
Going out on a limb, the next mayor of San Jose will be of Italian-American heritage and his family will have long established roots in the community.
Dave Cortese’s campaign has a compelling message of bringing a divided city together. His endorsements from Sheriff Smith and four former San Jose police chiefs give him a tremendous advantage on the number one issue in the minds of voters: rising crime.
The aforementioned Liccardo was able to out-hustle and outspend Nguyen. His campaign started slowly, but with help from the Mercury News and some real environmental and housing street cred, he squeaked past the current vice mayor. The albatross of the constitutionally dismissed Measure B, however, continues to be Liccardo’s Achilles heel.
That said, with the Merc firmly behind him and the Chamber of Commerce likely to weigh in on his side—after staying on the sidelines in the primary—neither side can expect to runaway with the job.
Qualified Candidates Who Lost
Betty Yee was clearly the most qualified candidate for state controller. She ran a very close race, but it looks like she will miss the runoff. The controller’s race almost produced our first anomaly under our new top-two voting system. We could have ended up with two Republicans running against each other—even though the electorate clearly supports a Democrat in that position.
With two highly qualified Democrats splitting the vote and a third candidate receiving “Nader’s share” (see Ralph Nader 2000), the Republicans almost pulled off a coup by getting their top two candidates enough votes to block a democratic nominee. That is a flaw in the system.
Also, Bob Levy in District 1 is a longtime community activist and environmentalist. He was clearly qualified for San Jose City Council, but the race had too many candidates splitting the vote too many ways for him to succeed.
Finally, people like libraries, schools and the environment, and they are willing to vote 2-1 to fund them. It looks like the libertarian streak is dormant in Santa Clara County, even in a low voter turnout election.