Rosemary Kamei emailed supporters and posted to her campaign website earlier today to announce that she is dropping out of the race for Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage’s seat. In a telephone intervew this afternoon, she said she’d made the decision partly because of the crowded field.
“I thought long and hard about this after looking at the race and considering all the candidates,” she said. Pressed to elaborate, Kamei laughed. “There’s a lot of candidates! You know—they are good candidates, and for me personally, it was a decision I’ve made for myself. I chose to step down.”
Kamei, a member of the Santa Clara Water District board of directors, had secured endorsements from the likes of former Assembly Member John Laird, and had given up her position as vice president of development at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte to run. Nevertheless, she says, it became clear earlier this month that she was slipping behind in fundraising.
The San Jose Mercury News reported she’d racked up only $51,032, less than half of Teresa Alvarado’s $116,000. Kamei acknowledged that she was also lagging behind candidates Forrest Williams and Mike Wasserman in contributions, but says money was just one factor in her decision.
She pointed out that Wasserman, who is just ahead of her in fundraising, lent his campaign $25,000. “Had I loaned myself $25,000, I would have been closer to him,” she says. “But fundraising is never easy, especially in this economy.”
Many wondered what a face-off between Kamei and Alvarado would look like, given their shared membership in several Latino organizations, though apparently those commonalities do not now mean an endorsement—the letter also revealed she is throwing her weight behind Williams, calling him “an honest and straightforward competitor.”
“I like Teresa,” Kamei said. “She and I are very good friends. But I think that when you look at the magnitude of the problems the county has, I think the skills needed are someone who’s gone through it before. I think when you look at Forrest, there’s just more experience there.”
This was the second time a supervisor’s seat has slipped out of Kamei’s reach—her first attempt ended in defeat to the outgoing Gage 12 years ago. She said this time she’s decided to bow out before the campaign picks up steam with forums and other events.
She added she will finish her term on the water board and said this doesn’t mean she won’t consider running again for supervisor. “I’d like to keep my options open for the future,” she said. “That’s one of the things I don’t need to decide today.”—Jessica Lussenhop