County Supervisor Race Rankings — A New Frontrunner (Opinion)

County Supervisor Race Rankings — A New Frontrunner

By Robert Haugh

New fundraising numbers are in and we believe there’s a new frontrunner for County Supervisor in the Santa Clara News Online rankings.

The most recent reports cover the period January 1 to June 30, 2017. The expenditure limit for the primary race is $250,000. The primary to replace term-limited Supervisor Ken Yeager is still almost a year from now, on June 5, 2018. It’s like announcing a steel cage grudge bout between arch rivals a year in advance.


#1) Pierluigi Oliverio, former San Jose Councilman. He moves into first place because of strong fundraising this period. Oliverio raised $255,063, just over the expenditure limit. That’s allowable under County rules. Oliverio moves up from #3 last month.

We were impressed with his stance to support the weekday stadium curfew which will likely win him lots of votes in Santa Clara.

We’re also hearing from reliable sources that a San Jose business group will put together a large independent expenditure for him.

#2) Don Rocha, San Jose Councilman. He falls out of first place based on his fundraising total this period, $140,265. That’s good, but not the best. However, he told the Mercury News, that he would hit $250,000 by the end of the year.

Rocha has six months to go and he’s on track to raise the max, so we keep him in second place. He’s also likely to get the Labor endorsement, although we’re hearing rumblings that Santa Clara Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta is making a strong case to Labor to “dual” endorse him and Rocha. Let’s see if Labor decides to split their resources between two candidates, while the San Jose business community unites behind Oliverio.

#3) Susan Ellenberg, San Jose Unified School District Board of Education Vice President. She moves up a notch from last month’s rankings based on strong fundraising this period. Ellenberg raised $110,636, an impressive amount for a school board member. She’s also the only female in the race and is now getting some good endorsements, like former Assemblymember Jim Cunneen.  

He initially endorsed Caserta and is prominently featured on Caserta’s website. Now. he is “dual endorsing” Ellenberg. (Cunneen confirmed that with us). That’s a sign of Ellenberg’s growing strength and maybe concerns about Caserta. Looks like she’ll also raise the $250,000 max, making Ellenberg a strong dark horse to get into the runoff.


#4) Jason Baker, former Campbell Mayor. He drops from #2 last month because of weak fundraising this period, $47,847. We still think he’ll do well in Campbell, his base, and Santa Clara, where he has great connections and history.

But will he have enough funds to compete in the rest of the district which is primarily in San Jose? He’ll be helped by a San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s endorsement which we reported as a likelihood in May. Baker’s response suggested it’s a possibility. But he’ll need it sooner rather than later.

#5) Caserta. It was a good month for Caserta since he didn’t lose any endorsements (unless you count Cunneen).

But people are talking about his temperament which is not good.

Caserta raised the max six months ago. This period he raised $57,150 which he can only use if he makes the runoff. Caserta got off to an impressive fundraising start. We hear that he wanted to scare other people out of the race. That strategy failed. The field now has five good candidates, with at least four of them likely to raise the $250,000 max. Caserta’s major challenge may be winning Santa Clara. That will be tough since he lost the support of popular Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor and sided with the 49ers on lifting the weekday curfew — a killer issue especially in the Northside.

We’ll continue to follow the race, the money, and endorsements.


  1. ABC=Anyone But Caserta LOL talk about an awesome campaign slogan. I’m getting Tshirts and bumper stickers printed😂😂

  2. Next time make the ranking based on the sellout factor/scumbag factor and egotistical jerk! says:

    If this is the case, then I’m not sure who wins – Dom Casserta or Pierluigi Oliverio.
    People really need to find out the good, bad and ugly of Casserta.
    But Oliverio gives Casserta a run for his money and ups him in several categories.

    Oliverio uses staff to spy on people that oppose him, badmouth them and may take
    even more money than Casserta under the table? (if that is humanly possible)

    If ethics and moral values had ANY place in the rankings these to frauds wouldn’t
    even be eligible to be dog catchers.

    • Oliverio’s spies, are they Russians or Ukranians. I don’t support Oliverio, but that comment is really a really. If I was not supporting Rocha, I would vote for Oliverio simply for that childish comment.

    • K Allman —
      If you were seriously involved in SJ politics you would know this charge of using his staff to spy (eavesdrop) is correct. His staff member(s) then text Oliverio.

      These were not isolated incidents. Before you dismiss out of hand comments, consider that the person has specific knowledge.

    • Still waiting on the mountain of evidence about Oliverio. I don’t even like the guy, but he does not deserve smear. Now Ellenberg has an impressive crew of endorsements, but assuming she can get from 110k to 250k is a little fanciful. This assumption that Jason Baker is the toast of San Jose is also pretty fanciful, considering three council members back Rocha, and Dave Cortese hosted a party for Rocha. Let us get real. Caserta seems to be the the goat for this news outlet. He is a controversial figure, but the blogger seems to think a former legislator who likes to double deal has some great power. Is this analysis, or just U hate Dominic time?

    • Look, I am just saying what I know from reading San Jose Inside about Cunneen. One, Cunneen, a lobbyist for Lehigh Cement has some sort of foundation affiliated with the American Leadership Form. Ellenberg is a member. ALF set up by a figure from Royal/Dutch Shell. Oil Companies seem to be connected to Ellenberg Chevron, Royal/Dutch) and her associates. It is there. So if we want to talk about billionaires and Caserta, which is fair discussion, what about “newsites” funded by oil companies who employ Ellenberg consultants?

      I see Oliverio received thousands from Santana Row developers. Isn’t Santa Clara challenging them? But it seems that is not talked about here. It seems Caserta, whom I will never support , should be careful not to leave a coffee cup unwashed or a gum wrapper on the ground, lest this site will have another exclusive. Perhaps we can see something about Whitehurst or others as well

  3. Liccardo will endorse because he will have little to no opposition so won’t have to worry about his race.

    As everyone at SJ city hall knows, he likes Jason a lot more than the other candidates. Ellenberg is second.

    Liccardo needs friends at the County where the labor trio is lined up against him. Jason breaks up the alliance. The County deals with SJ more than any other local agency.

    Caserta visited Liccardo last year to secure his endorsement. Liccardo is stringing him along because he wants his help in the lawsuit between SJ and Santa Clara. But Liccardo doesn’t think much of Caserta who will be left at endorsement altar weeping tears of disappointment and feeling like a chump.

    • I really cannot see why a person who works for a legislator and may know everyone at San Jose City Hall is that great a catch. Oliverio, Ellenberg, and Caserta have real jobs. I believe Rocha did as well. Now I also find it interesting that Caserta’s funding is so horrible as Oliverio and Rocha get money from those sources. Yes, Susan is the only women running. This is a very important check in her favor. But the minimum wage fight done by Caserta is what tips me to back him. Granted Ellenberg is on the school board and that district pays 15 an hour, so Susan has a good mark for her. Bakers city is crawling to 13. Oliverio and Rocha have done what?

  4. Jason Baker will get the Sam Liccardo endorsement. He’ll then win SJ because Liccardo is more popular than Oliverio and Rocha. Jason Baker also has a great chance to win Santa Clara because of his personal connections. He doesn’t have baggage in Santa Clara like Caserta. If he gets Lisa Gillmor’s endorsement, he’ll definitely win Santa Clara. Of course, he’ll win Campbell.

    • With Liccardo running for re-election in 2018, he hardly will back anyone for Supervisor at this time. Gillmor did what she did, but even a clever political bank shot, nine ball ace like Lisa would not keep Cases from getting to the runoff this eliminating Caserta from other alternatives. Sure Thing betting is a Gillmor trait, and an angry Caserta out of the run off would not a be a good bet. Now Baker may have Campbell, but he has one, count them one District 4 endorsement.

  5. Dear Student,

    One word answer. MONEY. Mr. Caserta has a well documented record of selling out for money. Information about his BAREC vote and the timing of contributions received will be made known to all before the election.

    Also, cheer up. My mother was an accountant. It is a fine profession.

  6. I am so confused by Mr. Caserta.

    He taught us that political principle is more important than campaign contributions. He said that even good politicians can’t recover from bad decisions. Nixon make a mistake with Watergate. Johnson made a mistake with the Vietnam War. He teaches it and preaches it.

    So how does he explain his mistake siding with the 49ers on the curfew? That hurts the people of the Northside and he wants to unite Santa Clara. That hurts school children and he’s suppose to be a teacher. That hurts people who need to be up early and he says he is a champion for workers.

    I used to look up to all my teachers. Now I sit silently and feel disillusioned about politics because of Mr. Caserta. Maybe I’ll study accounting in college.

    • I can agree with curfew issue, but may I also point out that among the biggest backers of the stadium were leaders of the Northside. Now was there a change in the plan concerning stadium usage, holding concerts and WrestleMania prior to this year? I also feel that the soccer park fiasco was the faulty primarily of the Niners. But Jason Baker works for a legislator supporting the extension of all bar curfews to 4 It is not that they are all bad, and one is good, or whatever. It is about logic and trust. I do not read about Baker and his boss’ support for extending bar curfews here. But it is the truth. Nor do I read about 10 grand being paid to settle Oliverio’s sexual harassment suit here. Yes, Caserta has support of the Niners, but Rocha and Baker have connections there as well. As for Oliverio, running for Congress? running for Open Space Board? Opposing money for police. Well, it is important to note that.

  7. Now, I am even more confused. Jim Cunneen is an important endorsement? Did you know?

    California Strategies, LLC
    Leslie Rodriguez, Jim Cunneen
    Microsoft Corporation; Hewlett Packard; California Dental Foundation; Rocketship Education, Robinson Communications

    from SC News
    Francisco attorney who founded BLUPAC is listed as the “corporate attorney” for Rich Robinson’s political consulting operation.
    •Robinson is a consultant or ally of many of the BLUPAC candidates like Diridon and McLemore.
    •Robinson has also done political work for the 49ers.

  8. Are these rankings simply “Opinion” (fair enough), or some objective evaluation? The focus here seems to be actual fundraising numbers with Oliverio moving up in the rankings because of that. But if it’s then just fundraising dollars, the numbers are confusing. If Caserta “raised the max six months ago” and now has an over the bar $57k (that can only be used for a runoff), how can he be at the bottom?
    If you’re going to be presenting an ongoing ranking, moving up and down, it would be good to understand the criteria, whether it be dollars, endorsements or surveys.
    p.s., I never care much for folks making dual endorsements, but would value Cunneen’s, with his “across the aisle” attitude and political experience.

  9. Susan Ellenberg is the clear choice! HVe had the pleasure working with Susan over a few years. Integrity, intelligence and demeanor beyond question! Importantly, especially for Santa Clara voters, no hidden agenda!

  10. If it will be hard for Caserta to win Santa Clara what chance would he have? Who else in the district is voting for him? Labor? Not the most important in this district, no? I just can’t imagine Pieri winning because his reputation or Baker because his low profile. I don’t think Cuneen is that big of a deal, or am I missing something? Rocha and Ellenberg for the runoff. Haven’t heard anything bad about them and I don’t think they are campaigning hard yet as they have other positions. Enlighten me if I’m wrong? Caserta is all in which makes burning out more probable.

    • Here is what I know.

      Oliverio got 252 K so is he burning out? I think Caserta is worthy of support. The actions he took on the minimum wage is great. I voted for Yeager instead of Lezotte or Mahan, because Ken is an energetic guy, and so is Caserta. Well, I strongly encouraged my relatives to vote against Measure J so I know all about the 49ers. Caserta is about people. Consider me foolish, but I do not care. The passion for the people is there. That passion is what we need. Big Hillary can and so I know all the talk about Sanders being acerbic. People wanted him anyway. I really think that a passion for government, I will trust Caserta to use it for the district

    • First I said nothing about fundraising. I referred to campaigning and Caserta IS all in when it comes to that. Voters will be watching all his moves because he is already out there trying to get everyone’s votes for June 2018…by which point Caserta will have campaigned for 18 months…this makes burning out more probable than say Rocha who won’t be campaigning until 2018. Also this article says that Caserta was trying to scare people with his fundraising but nobody is shook…that’s a big misstep in strategy.

      I would specifically like to know negatives about Rocha and Ellenberg since I haven’t heard any. I am well aware of Pieri and Caserta and Baker’s good qualities as well as faults. Thank you.

    • Beyond who works for, who plays golf for who, who went to who’s wedding, can we talk about issues?

      Caserta is the only candidate working for living wages and affordable housing.

  11. Permit me to say I appreciate a thorough examination of the supervisorial candidates. But as I have said, there are things about Jim Cunneen worth noting. He is lobbyist for developers, and a backer of the 49ers coming to the South Bay. Rocha helps the 49ers raise money. As I am a backer of Ellenberg, I find it curious as to why you neglect to mention the thousands Oliverio has received from Santana Row developers. Oh, well. Susan’s cousin, Congressman Schiff can testify to Susan’s ability, just as he can testify to any Trumpsters about the Donald’s need to be polite (Trump, not Rocha. Rocha is polite). On that subject, Rocha taking 1,000 dollars from a lobbyist representing a streetlight company who attempted to sour a deal affecting regional street lighting is interesting. Getting beyond your ABC rating system, I would also appreciate Oliverio’s record of opposing police union efforts, such as stealing signs and working with Vic Ajlouny, who tried to get POA members to lie. If we want to use developer and 49er support as a mark against candidates, praising their lobbyists is hardly a good idea.

  12. I enjoy your rankings. I get more information about the candidates running than I get from the Mercury News. They usually just write one article about election a couple weeks before. You’re writing almost a year before and giving us good information. Thank you.

    • I looked around Facebook for Jason Baker. Hmm, found a party given for him at a bar in Campbell who received neighborhood complaints. Oh. Then I saw Scott Weiner endorsement. Weiner, major backer? 49ers. Weiner has a bill, extends bar closing times for neighborhood bars till 4 a.m. Wow. Now Rocha is being involved in a stupid sexual harassment lawsuit. Rocha hired the poor woman who was harassed. That is good. But her attorney, Rich Robinson. Oh, where have we seen this name. Money. Hmm, 3000 from DeRollo and Saggau. They represent AMC, the ambulance company. Gosh, what you don’t see when you just hate Caserta. Ps, Ellenberg voted down a big proposal for charter schools. That’s my gal!! Oh, do we remember another guy who backs anyone but Caserta who lent his office to Charter School lobbyists. I think if we really want to put out the moles, it should ALL the moles on all the faces.

  13. Mixed feelings here. I read some stuff about Jim Cunneen. He is a registered lobbyist working for developers. By that token, many of your readers would not like him. Then I saw a comment by Albanese Construction apologizing for the use of their fire engine by Oliverio in a parade. Hmm, does that speak about judgement? Now your rating system intrigues me. It seems to be ABC, Anyone But Caserta. Now I think Susan Ellenberg is a fine person, and I am glad she is running. Her endorsements include former supervisors. But you seem to be the only one endorsing Don Rocha, as he has no one. Why is a dual endorsement such a mark on Caserta. I frankly am not supporting him, but I note Santa Clara is suing San Jose over Santana Row, but Oliverio takes money from Santana Row developers. This is good? Cunneen also has ties to WalMart, and that seems not to be a big deal to you. Rocha was involved in a long winded attempt by a company who was fighting San Jose over streetlights. Guess what? Their lobbyist gave Rocha a 1,000 dollars. Now we all know of the 49ers. Point taken. Jim Cunneen is a big supporter of the 49ers, and the San Jose Chamber, whom you wrote about gets a ton of money from the Niners. I bet they won’t back Caserta. Now, here is something else that is interesting. (PS, I like Susan and Jason a lot more than the others). You seem to like police officer groups. So do I. Oliverio not only was caught stealing their signs, but his consultant, Vic Ajlouny has directed more campaigns against police pensions locally than anyone else. You write about Don Gage. Didn’t Gage try to block the Northside Library? I am sorry, but though I am always happy to hear good things about Susan, your objectivity seems blunted.

  14. Thank you for presenting information about all the candidates. I’m looking for someone who believes that neighborhoods matter. That someone should support good developments that don’t destroy neighborhoods and know something about transportation to deal with the gridlock that my family has to deal with on a daily basis. Right now, I don’t see that candidate. But I’ll keep looking to your site and other sources.

  15. Caserta is a terrible choice for Santa Clara.

    1. He takes money from the 49ers.
    2. He voted for the 49ers request to lift the curfew.
    3. He takes lots of developer money.
    4. He votes for major developments over objection of neighborhoods.
    5. BAREC
    6. Mariani
    7. He has a bad temper and insults people at council meetings

  16. Hey Bob,

    You seem to know Caserta really really well. Could you tell him to drop out of the race before he embarrasses himself and his donors? He’s just a joke of a candidate. He’s lost ground since the beginning of the year. He lost endorsements and he’ll lose more. He’s like Hilary Clinton! The more he campaigns the worse he does. That’s because the more people get to know him, the less they like him.

    Also be careful about throwing out harrassment rumors. Be very very careful.

    • What rumors the Oliverio harassment charges happened! He is slimy as evidenced by the Rose Parade that is just the beginning for him with public safety he is toast.

      Caserta is extremely popular not just in SC but also throughout the district there will be lawn signs all over the district soon with Caserta!

    • I am just perplexed here. Caserta lost Don Gage. Hmm, Gage made comments about the Northside Library which kept it from being opened, yes? Now Jim Cunneen gave a dual endorsement. True, Lisa Gillmor pulled her endorsement. Fair observation, but did she go somewhere else? Again, you seem so insistent to keep talk away from the Oliverio suit. 10,000 dollars for a Bill O’Reilly settlement. Matter of record. Now Ellenberg has no debits and plenty of credits. Good choice. But let’s see a race on the issues. I am fine with that. I think Susan will win. But give her a chance, end the neener, neener posts, ok?

  17. I had the chance to meet Pierluigi Oliverio at the Santa Clara street dance. Seem like a nice guy and was very approachable. Seemed to get along and blend in well with all the Santa Clarans. I’m definitely going to look closer at Pierluigi as we go forward as Dominic is not an option for me.

  18. So inaccurate Robert! Every objective benchmark Caserta is winning. You say he will have trouble winning Santa Clara when is has won it FOUR times in row most recently without Gillmor’s endorsement. You say he might get a dual with labor even though labor had given him four times the amount of Rocha. Caserta will get labor.

    Also you say Oliverio will get business. No business is staying out and individual members of the business community have split between Oliverio and Caserta. You fail to mention Oliverio’s scandals of sexual harassment by an employee or him caught stealing lawn signs that will bury him in the primary. You do not quote one source who confirms independent expenditures will go to Oliverio. Oliverio is toast as evidenced by his THREE straight loses.

    You focus on putting someone first based in fundraising with Oliverio this time and when Caserta raised the most you atttack him for it. What about all the developer money Oliverio and Rocha raised you aren’t attaching them on that. What a joke!

    You also fail to mention Caserta has three times the endorsements of any other candidate and is the ONLY candidate to have walked the district which he is close to 80% done walking. Nor that he has stood up to the Niners and condemned them for breaking the concert curfew.

    Again this is lazy and inaccurate biased garbage. Again you claim to be a journalist and you never cite direct sources. Cronkite and Murrow are turning in their graves with you lack of objectivity.

    It is sad that you claim to love Santa Clara and you continually paint in a negative light the best chance that Santa Clara has to getting someone up there. Everyone is chasing Caserta right now, your reporting is so flawed even your a biased opinion.

    No one wonder no one pays you for your so called reporting.

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