California Congressional Race Ends in Tie

( – Assembly member Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, two Democrats seeking the seat for California’s 16th Congressional District, now have even more in common. Both men received exactly 30,249 votes in this last election, putting them in a tie for second place behind fellow Democrat and former Mayor of San Jose Sam Liccardo, who received 38,489 votes.

California’s congressional “jungle primaries” typically advance the top two finishers to the general election, even if they’re members of the same political party. Because Low and Simitian tied, they each had two options. Option one: they could demand a recount, which placed 50/50 odds against them if workers did happen to find an extra vote. Option two: they could also agree that they both deserved to advance to the next election round, letting the polls decide their final fate.

California doesn’t conduct automatic recounts, but anyone registered to vote in the state can request one at their own personal expense. And a recount doesn’t come cheap. If one of them had decided to go ahead with a request, their campaign would have had to pay $32,000 a day for the effort, which would have taken roughly 10 days to complete. Low and Simitian both opted to let the numbers stand, which means the general election will fall between three Democrats. Other states settle ties with other means such as coin tosses or drawing names.

The added general election opponent could complicate candidates’ campaigning efforts, particularly because choosing the right person to target as their biggest threat might be a challenge. The race has already cost $5.3 million between the three of them — and they’re likely to spend a lot more in the coming months.

The candidates each hope to replace Rep. Anna Eshoo (D), who is retiring at the end of this term. She reportedly endorsed Simitian for the seat.

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