California Democrat tied with challenger in wild congressional primary

A rare tied primary election result is set to put three candidates on the November ballot in California's 16th Congressional District.

Nearly one month after the March 5 election, unofficial results show that two Democratic candidates have tied for second place in the nonpartisan "jungle" primary. State Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian each have 30,249 votes, behind first-place finisher Sam Liccardo, the former mayor of San Jose, who earned 38,489 votes.

"It's a special ‘Tie’ day!" Low posted on X after all precincts finished reporting vote totals on Wednesday.  

If the primary results are certified by the California secretary of state, the outcome means Liccardo and both of his challengers will all appear on the November ballot, according to state law.

"If only one candidate receives the highest number of votes cast but there is a tie vote among two or more candidates receiving the second-highest number of votes cast, each of those second-place candidates shall be a candidate at the ensuing general election along with the candidate receiving the highest number of votes cast, regardless of whether there are more candidates at the general election than prescribed by this article," California elections code states.

"In no case shall the tie be determined by lot." 

Jim Irizarry, assistant assessor-county clerk-recorder of San Mateo County, told local news station KPIX that a vote for Simitian received by the county Tuesday tied the election. Officials in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties are scheduled to issue their official results by 5 p.m. local time Thursday.


"It's in the ballpark of the candidates. At this point in time, the campaigns need to decide whether they are satisfied with the results. If they are not, they have five days to file for a recount," Irizarry told KPIX. "At this juncture, because there is a tie, state law basically says that when there is a tie for the two positions that we're talking about right now, the two will go to the November election, so they will be at three-way race for the congressional seat."

California election officials have an April 12 deadline to certify the results, according to the secretary of state's website.

The election will determine who will replace Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who announced her retirement in November after serving more than three decades in Congress.

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"I’m choosing this beautiful season of Thanksgiving to announce that I will not seek re-election," Eshoo, 80, said in a video accompanying the announcement. "And I do so with a heart filled with unending gratitude to you, my magnificent constituents."

Representatives for the Low and Simitian campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment asking whether they intended to challenge the results of the election or seek a recount.