In a competitive race for a highly-coveted California Assembly seat, Assemblymember Alex Lee and Kansen Chu appear to be headed to a November runoff.
With 46% of the ballots counted when polls closed Tuesday, Lee led the pack of five candidates with 37.88% of the vote. He was followed by Chu, the former representative for the district, who netted 22.28% percent. The two frontrunners were trailed by Bob Brunton, who had 19.07%, Lan Diep who had 13.56% and Teresa Keng who had 7.21%.
“People power is prevailing,” Lee told San José Spotlight during an election night party. “On top of all my opponents who take corporate money, we still have a strong showing in our district. We’re going to continue to work towards the fall election no matter who our opponent is. We’re going to keep knocking on doors, we’re going to keep seeing our grassroots approach.”
The candidates are vying for California Assembly District 24 , which was formed during redistricting in 2020, and includes Fremont, Milpitas, Newark and the Berryessa area in northern San Jose. A little more than half of the voters are Asian American. The Silicon Valley seat is held by Lee, who won in 2020 after his predecessor Chu left the Legislature to unsuccessfully run for county supervisor. Two years later, Chu challenged Lee for his old seat back.
Lee, who became the first openly bisexual member of the California State Assembly, said he wants to continue focusing on the housing crisis by supporting the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, as well as address the effects of COVID-19.
At 26, Lee, a progressive Democrat, is the youngest member of the state Assembly.
Lee received $355,395 in contributions this year and won support from Congressmembers Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Jimmy Panetta, state Sens. Bob Wieckowski and Dave Cortese, and Assemblymembers Ash Kalra, Evan Low and Marc Berman, among others.
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Chu, also a longtime Democrat, is a Berryessa Union School District Board member and previously served as the assemblymember for District 25 from 2014 to 2020. Chu, 69, also served as a San Jose councilmember from 2007 to 2014 and returned to the Berryessa school board after his failed supervisorial campaign in 2020.
Chu’s campaign aimed to bolster public safety, increase funding to alleviate the state’s homeless crisis and improve transportation services.
Chu raised $193,495 this year, according to his latest campaign filings. He scored endorsements from Fremont Councilmembers Teresa Cox, Rick Jones, Raj Salwan and Yang Shao, all five councilmembers in Newark, Milpitas Councilmembers Evelyn Chua and Carmen Montano, and Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran.
Brunton, 64, the only Republican in the race, also sought the Assembly seat in 2020. He made the runoff in November and faced off with Lee. He served on the Ohlone College board of trustees for 12 years.
Brunton focused his campaign on increasing public trust in the government, alleviating college debt, and promised to host community forums. He hasn’t reported any campaign contributions and is endorsed by the Santa Clara County Republican Party.
Diep, a former Republican who was criticized for registering as a Democrat, was elected to the San Jose City Council in 2016 and lost his seat after one term. His campaign this year focused on public safety, housing affordability and health care, according to his website.
Diep has reported $46,279 in campaign contributions this year and is endorsed by New Politics, a bipartisan organization that supports veteran public officials.
Keng, a Democratic councilmember in Fremont, said she wanted to see small business rent relief programs, address crimes targeting the Asian community and expand STEM programs. She is also a small business owner.
Keng, 46, raised $152,078 in campaign contributions this year and is supported by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Santa Clara Councilmembers Kevin Park, Kathy Watanabe, and Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor, among others.
The top two vote-getters will face off in the general election on Nov. 8.
Contact Annalise Freimarck at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @annalise_ellen on Twitter.
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