Dave Cortese Leads the Pack in 15th State Senate Race

The first round of results had just dropped when Fly stumbled into San Jose Councilman Johnny Khamis’ election party at Bossman’s Pizza. His head hung low.

“I thought our message would resonate more with the public than it looks like it has, but I’m optimistic about the future of California nevertheless,” he said with a sigh.

Throughout the evening, Khamis stayed steady in fifth place in the 15 State Senate race while Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese took a commanding lead.

Source: Santa Clara County

But what shocked his supporters the most is that Khamis—an independent who left the GOP a couple years ago—lagged behind Republican Robert Howell. The mechanical engineer is a newcomer to politics with no campaign website or mailers, unlike many of his well-funded competitors.

“I expected Dave Cortese to be at the top,” Councilwoman Pam Foley remarked. “The rest kind of surprises me. ... Some of the names I hadn’t even heard of are further up in the numbers.” She pondered whether conservative voters saw the (R) next to Howell’s name and automatically checked the box.

Ann Ravel’s election night shindig at Los Gatos Soda Works doubled as a belated party for one of her top volunteers, Arlene Rusche, with a double layer chocolate cake for her March 1 birthday. Rusche, who just bought a shiny new Tesla, snagged the slot as driver for the State Senate hopeful. “I love to drive,” she gushed.

Ann Ravel (right) celebrated one of her supporters' birthdays at her election night gathering. (Photo by Grace Hase)

Two-fifths of the county board of supes joined Ravel at the soiree: Susan Ellenberg and Joe Simitian. Ellenberg’s husband—Steve Ellenberg—joked with Simitian about the tight re-election race the veteran North County supervisor ran, scooping up 100 percent of the vote on Super Tuesday since his only challenger dropped out of the race before his name even wound up on the ballot.

Moments before the first round of results dropped, Ravel, a former FEC chair, told Fly that she was going to refrain from being “deflated or depressed” until all the ballots—including the ones mailed in today—were counted. The race to replace soon-to-term-out state Sen. Jim Beall was a crowded one, with seven contenders.

As of today, Cortese—who claims strong support from organized labor—held strong with nearly 33 percent of the vote against 20 percent for Ravel. The two will now have to face each other in a fall runoff.

Cortese celebrated his win at a volunteer appreciation event, where Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose)joined him after landing a decisive victory in his own right.

It was a full house at Dave Cortese's watch party. (Photo by Greg Ramar)


Correction: A previous version of this story noted that the Tesla belonged to Ann Ravel and not Arlene Rusche. San Jose Inside regrets the error. 

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  1. I was praying for a “Two-fer.”

    My prayer, both Cortese and Campos would have been dumped by the “Voters” into the dustbin for the ages.

    My prayer was not fully answered.

    Campos is gone.

    But, Cortese is still amongst us. Maybe he’ll get the “Boot” in the fall.

    Should Campos join Carrasco to sell tamales together out of a station wagon at our local supermarkets?

    I like the cheese and jalapeño variety.

    David S. Wall

  2. Hopefully those seeking reform over more of the same see the clear difference between the two remaining candidates. Money in politics is the greatest issue at the heart of corruption and gets in the way of meaningful reform. One candidate has chaired the FPPC (appointed by Governor Brown) after working for three decades as a Santa Clara County Attorney, taking on the Koch brothers and winning, before President Obama took notice and appointed her to the Federal Election Commission. Local, state, and federal level experience and a lifelong track record of fighting for what is right. This individual, at 70, is rounding out a lifelong career of public service. She is beholden to no special interest group but the people.

    Name recognition isn’t everything. Vote for Ann Ravel.

    • > taking on the Koch brothers and winning,

      You’re going to have to explain this one.

      What alleged reality are you referring to?

      I suspect that whatever scrap of truth this is connected to has been stretched way beyond recognition.

  3. Johnny Khamis doesn’t get it. He thinks everything can be solved with trickle down economics. People actually don’t mind paying taxes if it means the police force will not be understaffed and the potholes will be fixed. I have a feeling he left the Republican party because it helped when he was running for city council in red District 10 but knew it would not help when he ran for Senate in blue/purple district 15. Time to get a real job Johnny.

    • > People actually don’t mind paying taxes . .

      There are two kinds of people who don’t mind paying taxes:

      1. People who DON’T pay taxes. Probably fifty percent of Californians’ DON’T pay taxes.

      2. People who get paid by the government. People who get ten dollars of benefit (salary, pension, contracts) for every dollar of tax they pay, don’t mind paying taxes.

    • > I have a feeling he left the Republican party because it helped when he was running for city council in red District 10 . . . blah blah blah.

      Khamis probably left the Republican party because there was no Republican party left.

      What used to be the Republican Party has been replaced by the “Not the Democratic Party”.

      The Not the Democratic Party is significantly larger than the Democratic Party.

      John McCain, Jeff Flake, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are what’s left of the “Republican Party”, and McCain isn’t doing so well these day. And Mitt Romney doesn’t have any friends anymore.

      But the California Democrat Party may not be in that great of shape either. Probably a lot of Dems don’t recognize Bernie Sanders’ “Democratic Socialists” as The Democratic Party in California.

      California Dems are on a nostalgia trip, yearning for the good old days of Hillary Clinton. If Republicans are gravitating to the Not the Democratic Party, Dem voters are gravitating to the Not the Democratic Socialist Party.

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