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The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

A Guide to the Crowded California Senate and Local House Primaries

Staff illustration: Amber More
Staff illustration: Amber More

Since 1992, two names have consistently appeared on Bay Area ballots — Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Neither is running in 2024.

Eshoo — whose district represents parts of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties, including Atherton in the House of Representatives — announced that she would not seek reelection in 2024 after 32 years of service. 

Feinstein, who was the oldest of all 535 senators and representatives in Congress at 90 years old, died in September of last year. California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to fill her seat, but she is not running for reelection. The race to fill Butler’s seat is crowded, with over two dozen candidates in the race.

Here is a breakdown of the races.

California’s 16th Congressional District:

Gabriel Warshauer-Baker (No Party Preference)

Gabriel Warshauer-Baker filed to run but does not have a campaign website or social media account. According to his personal LinkedIn and X accounts, he has previously worked at the self-driving companies Waymo and Cruise as a software engineer. Currently, he is working at a small biotechnology research company called Dragonase, which he co-founded.

 

Joby Bernstein (D)

Joby Bernstein, a 28-year-old Dartmouth graduate and current Stanford Business School student, is an investor and environmentalist who wants to usher in the next generation of politicians. Bernstein, who led corporate sustainability programs at multiple companies, says his biggest goal is to fight climate change.

 

Peter Dixon (D)

Peter Dixon (‘01) is a Menlo School graduate and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is running with the endorsement of New Politics, a non-partisan organization composed primarily of military veterans. He has endorsements from multiple U.S. Representatives who are also veterans and part of New Politics such as Jason Crow, Jared Golden, Mikie Sherrill and Pat Ryan. Dixon received $350,000 within 24 hours of his campaign launch. Dixon is campaigning on safeguarding reproductive rights, solving the housing crisis and protecting democracy.

 

Richard Fox (No Party Preference)

Dr. Richard Fox is a physician and attorney who has previously challenged Rep. Anna Eshoo as a Republican. In Fox’s previous campaigns, he has branded himself as a fiscally conservative and socially liberal Republican. His main priorities were to bring private healthcare for all, “fix the economy” and promote inclusiveness.

 

Julie Lythcott-Haims (D)

Julie Lythcott-Haims, who attended Stanford and Harvard University, is an author and former Stanford administrator. She currently serves on the Palo Alto City Council, to which she was elected in 2022. As per Haims’ website, her political priorities are protecting abortion access, fighting climate change and lowering the cost of living.

 

Rishi Kumar (D)

Rishi Kumar, a tech executive, received an impressive 42% of the vote against Eshoo in 2022. However, this time he faces many candidates with greater name recognition and deeper pockets than him. His disadvantages partially stem from the fact that Kumar pledged to refuse to accept money from political action committees and special interest groups. Kumar’s website states that his priorities include focusing on underdressed issues such as “Medicare for All,” growing the economy and bringing a cultural change to Washington, as he seeks to impose term limits and ban insider trading.

 

Sam Liccardo (D)

Sam Liccardo — a Bellarmine College Preparatory, Harvard and Georgetown alumnus — served as the mayor of San Jose, the country’s 12th most populous city, from 2015-2023. He focused on improving the housing crisis during his term. Additionally, for environmental reasons, he led a successful effort to stop the construction of 900 luxury homes in an undeveloped area in the Evergreen foothills in San Jose. According to Politico, Liccardo raised $1.65 million in the fourth quarter of 2023 despite only joining the race in December. Liccardo also has the support of high-profile donors such as billionaire and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. Liccardo previously worked as a prosecutor of sex and child abuse.

 

Evan Low (D)

Evan Low attended high school and college in San Jose at Leland High School and San Jose State University. Low serves in the California State Assembly and was co-chair of Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign. He has many endorsements from big names in state politics: California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma and Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. Low, who is gay and of Chinese descent, is also endorsed by the LGBTQ+ groups Equality California and LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, in addition to the ASPIRE Political Action Committee (which supports Asian and Pacific Islander candidates) and local U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna. Low focuses on LGBTQ+ rights, environmental protections, aiding the housing crisis and promoting the technology sector.

 

Ahmed Mostafa (D)

Ahmed Mostafa is an attorney and tech policy expert who was student body president at both Foothill College and UC Santa Barbara. He was the director of the Pro Bono Clinic at Stanford University, which provides advocacy and legal representation for survivors of both sexual assault and domestic violence. According to Palo Alto Online, he wishes to create an international treaty to regulate AI. He also urged the Palo Alto City Council to adopt a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

 

Peter Ohtaki (R)

Peter Ohtaki is a moderate Republican who served as the mayor of Menlo Park. He studied economics in college at Harvard and went to Stanford Business School. According to Ohtaki’s website, he will work across the aisle to help pass legislation, combat crime and rising fentanyl overdoses, support common sense gun laws and support Israel against Iran-backed terrorists, among other objectives. Ohtaki has a small chance of winning as a Republican in a strongly Democratic district, but he will likely gain much of the Republican vote to propel him toward double digits in the primary.

 

Karl Ryan (R)

Karl Ryan is a small business owner from Los Gatos. His campaign website has very limited information, and the only issue it mentions is securing the border. Despite limited available information, Ryan is likely to receive some of the Republican vote as he is one of only two Republicans in the race.

 

Joe Simitian (D)

Joe Simitian, 70, attended Stanford and is a former state senator, state assemblyman, Palo Alto school board member and Palo Alto mayor. He is currently a Santa Clara County Supervisor. Simitian has nearly $700,000 in campaign funds as he has been raising money for his bid for this position since 2009. According to Palo Alto Online, Simitian has focused on housing; he supported multiple new housing projects while also stopping the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park from being replaced by luxury houses. Simitian has endorsements from over 150 local former and current council members and mayors including multiple Menlo parents who are current or former mayors of Woodside and Portola Valley.

 

Greg Tanaka (D)

Greg Lin Tanaka is a Palo Alto City Council member who attended UC Berkeley and Stanford. He is endorsed by 2020 presidential candidate and Forward Party founder Andrew Yang. His main objectives are to improve the American education system, protect voter rights and reform the immigration system.

 

U.S. Senate Seat For California:

There are over two dozen candidates, but the major ones polling above 5% (according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll) are:

Staff illustration: Amber More

James Bradley (R)

James Bradley, 66, is a third-generation veteran and tech executive. He pledges to stand with Israel, reduce homelessness through his comprehensive plan and increase parental rights.

 

Eric Early (R)

Eric Early is an attorney who is branding himself as a businessman, not a career politician. Early’s website mentions fighting skyrocketing prices burdening American consumers, stopping communist China, lowering crime and stopping the flow of fentanyl over America’s “open” southern border. He is endorsed by the San Francisco Republican Party and the California Republican Assembly.

 

Steve Garvey (R)

Steve Garvey, 75, is a former baseball player for the California-based Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. In a Politico/’s and Morning Consult’s poll, Garvey polled the second-highest at 15%. Garvey aims to improve the education system by increasing parental rights, raising the quality of life by helping to lower food and gas prices, fighting crime and addressing the homelessness crisis plaguing California.

 

Barbara Lee (D)

Rep. Barbara Lee, AGE, is a congresswoman who represents Oakland. She was previously involved with the Black Panther Party. Lee has endorsements from many U.S. representatives who are part of “Tthe Squad” and statewide elected officials. Lee is more progressive than Schiff and Katie Porter. Lee called for a cease-fire in Gaza just a day after the attacks by Hamas militants and before the devastating bombing by the Israel Defense Force started. Schiff, who is Jewish, opposes a ceasefire. Porter takes a middle-ground approach, supporting a ceasefire if and only if hostages are released.

 

Katie Porter (D)

Rep. Katie Porter, 50, is a congresswoman from Southern California who has garnered national attention during her time in the House of Representatives, where she has served since 2019. She is known for her interrogations on the House floor during which she grills CEOs. Porter is endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whom Porter named her childkid after. 

 

Adam Schiff (D)

Rep. Adam Schiff, 63, is a well-known congressman from Southern California who has served since 2001. He is leading in most polls and is endorsed by former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and over 60% of all Democratic U.S. Congress members from California. Schiff was a member of the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 U.S. capitol attacks. Schiff’s website states that his most important issues are boosting the economy by increasing taxes on the rich, protecting democracy, fighting the climate crisis and bringing health care for all. According to the Federal Election Commission, Schiff — who has $32.2 million in campaign funds — has the most money on hand of any candidate in the race.

 

Elections:

The candidates will face off in California’s primaries on Super Tuesday, which is on March 5, 2024. California operates a no-party preference primary where voters can choose their favorite candidate regardless of their party affiliation. Then, the top two candidates in each race face off in the general election on November 5, 2024.

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About the Contributor
Jacob Reich, Social Media Director
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: My favorite aspect of being on the Coat of Arms staff is the opportunity to conduct interviews where I get to meet and learn about new people.

Interests outside of school: I enjoy sports, games (board & video), and politics.

Class of 2025

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