Published March 13, 2023 in the Daily Post.
By Braden Cartwright
Daily Post Staff Writer
There’s been a lot of turnover among California representatives in Washington D.C., the latest being Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s announcement that she is retiring at the end of her term in 2024.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, 82, stepped down as speaker of the house last year, and San Mateo County Rep. Jackie Speier, 72, retired last year after 15 years in office. As her colleagues take different paths, some Democratic donors are asking: What about Anna Eshoo?
The Palo Alto congresswoman isn’t answering questions about her future and whether she plans to complete her term. She has been in office since 1993 and celebrated her 80th birthday in December.
If Eshoo doesn’t run for re-election, then Supervisor Joe Simitian is the frontrunner to replace her, and he is “ready to go” with a healthy fundraising account.
Liz Kniss, who was on the Palo Alto school board with Simitian in the late 1980s, said he has long held a desire to work in Washington D.C., but he is friends with Eshoo and won’t challenge her for her seat.
“I don’t think that there’s any secret that he’s kept an eye on Washington and that he’s kept an amazing what I call ‘war chest,'” Kniss said. “And usually someone doesn’t do that if they don’t have some intention of running for higher office.” Simitian formed a committee in 2009 to fundraise for Congress, called “Friends of Simitian.” The committee raised $122,443 last year and has $570,371 in cash, according to the Federal Election Commission database.
“I have had a federal committee in place for some time now, and I continue to keep it open so that if and when the opportunity to run for Congress presents itself, I am ready to go,” Simitian said in an emailed statement yesterday.
Democratic donor Arthur Keller said that Simitian “would be the ideal candidate” to replace Eshoo in 2024 because of his decades of political experience.
Simitian has been on the school board, city council, state assembly, state senate and the county board of supervisors twice.
Keller also mentioned the names of Assemblyman Marc Berman and state Sen. Josh Becker as possible candidates. But they’re new to the game: Berman was first elected in 2016, and Becker was elected in 2020, Keller said.
If Eshoo runs in 2024, then she would be the heavy favorite as she has been since taking office in 1993. She defeated Saratoga Councilman Rishi Kumar with 63% of the vote in 2020 and 58% of the vote last year.
Deciding to run in 2026 would be a different calculation for Simitian, Kniss said.
Age would become a greater factor, Kniss said, not necessarily because Simitian, 70, is too old for the job but because of the perception.
Simitian is also termed out on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2024, and he may continue his political career by running for a state seat, Kniss said.
For example, Kniss pointed to Sally Lieber, a Mountain View councilwoman who ran for the California State Board of Equalization last year. Lieber was also a state assemblywoman from 2002 to 2008.
Assemblyman Evan Low, 39, of Cupertino, could challenge Simitian, Kniss said. He is young and ambitious and has spent a lot of time supporting fellow candidates, she said.
But Simitian is ready to make calls to launch a campaign. He holds a fundraising event every year, Kniss said.
“He’s well known, he’s well respected, he’s well liked,” she said. “The big question is going to be, does age get in his way?”
Eshoo could also retire in the middle of her term, setting up a special election scheduled by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Either way, the race would start with a primary election. If nobody gets more than half of the vote, then the top two vote-getters would face off in a general election.