San Jose Spotlight: Mysterious Survey Tests Former San Jose Mayor For Congress

1 month ago SFGATE

By Jana Kadah

San Jose Spotlight

A new poll floating around San Jose is trying to gauge how much support former Mayor Sam Liccardo would receive if he ran for Congress.

The mysterious survey asks questions that pit Liccardo against Congressmember Zoe Lofgren, who currently represents parts of San Jose. About 10 questions tout the former mayor's accomplishments, including his gun regulation law and leveling out pension problems. The questions also ask respondents how much more likely are they to support him over Lofgren's 29 years of service.

The survey asks if respondents would prefer a progressive or moderate Democratic candidate, a newcomer or incumbent and if they would support Liccardo if he ran against other South Bay politicos like Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, State Sen. Anna Caballero or Republican San Benito County Supervisor Peter Hernandez.

It's not clear who paid for or conducted the poll, but it's unlikely to be a political action committee registered locally or with the state such as Solutions Silicon Valley or Common Good--they aren't legally allowed to spend money on federal races. It's likely a candidate exploratory committee that already exists, sources tell San Jose Spotlight.

Political observer Terry Christensen said because it's unclear who paid for the poll, it's impossible to infer whether Liccardo will run in 2024 or not.

"But someone is interested in having him run," Christensen told San Jose Spotlight.

Last March, Liccardo let it slip that he's eyeing a run for Congress and private consulting during a California Chamber of Commerce executive board meeting in Half Moon Bay. Then in a December 2022 interview with San Jose Spotlight, Liccardo said he would consider a congressional run "just as he would consider other options."

"I've considered different options, but right now that's not an option because San Jose's got four districts and we've got four members of Congress there," Liccardo said at the time. "If one of those folks suddenly decides they're not there, well then that's a conversation."

San Jose is represented by four representatives, including Lofgren in South San Jose; Rep. Jimmy Panetta in Almaden, Cambrian and portions of Evergreen; Rep. Anna Eshoo in West San Jose and Rep. Ro Khanna in part of East San Jose and Berryessa.

San Jose State University political science professor emeritus Larry Gerston said the redistricting of Lofgren's district could make it easier for a new candidate to swoop her seat, but it wouldn't be an easy feat for Liccardo.

"The people in her district now are not as familiar with her as the ones who helped her the last 20-plus years," Gerston told San Jose Spotlight. "Still, she won by a large margin in 2022, so it would be interesting for Liccardo to run. It breaks norms going against a popular incumbent with a lot of experience and (who's) well known in much of the district."

Christensen said he suspects Liccardo would do better in Khanna's district than Lofgren's for two reasons--Lofgren does not appear to be retiring soon and her district is heavily Latino. Khanna's district, which includes Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Newark, Fremont and parts of San Jose, may also open up if Khanna decides to run for Senate.

"It must be the case that (people close to Liccardo paid for this), but I don't think they're being realistic," Christensen said. "I haven't heard any indications that Lofgren's likely to step down. If she does, I think Cindy Chavez would be very interested in that scene and she would do well."

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