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.