In a near-unanimous vote Thursday, the county’s Democratic Central Committee agreed to move its endorsement decision for the San Jose mayor’s race from April to February.
Moving the schedule up a couple months gives the party more time to mobilize a campaign behind its preferred candidate, who many presume to be county Supervisor Dave Cortese. The race to succeed Chuck Reed features four other Democrats on the San Jose City Council. A candidate must receive at least two-thirds of the vote for a sole endorsement. If that happns, the DCC will be able to spend an unlimited amount of money on campaign endeavors, such as mailers to any registered Democrats through “member-to-member” communications.
“Early endorsement might, in appropriate cases, enable our county party to get to work earlier on strategically important races in which the field of candidates is known and seems likely to remain settled through the close of filing,” DCC vice chair Bill James said Thursday. Since December, James has led a committee to consider the change in bylaws to allow for an early endorsement.
Candidate questionnaires are expected to be sent out in the next week or two and the DCC will meet Feb. 6 to vote on an endorsement. Previously, the committee could only endorse a candidate after the filing deadline, which is March 12 this year.
Among the Democrats running for mayor with Cortese are San Jose councilmembers Rose Herrera, Sam Liccardo, Madison Nguyen and Pierluigi Oliverio. Councilman Pete Constant, a Republican, is also running.
Oliverio, who’s never gained the party’s endorsement despite being an elected member of the DCC, voted against the bylaws change Thursday.
“I’ve been elected twice [to the DCC],” he said. “Both times they chose to endorse someone else.”
The DCC did endorse Oliverio in 2007 while running in a special election for city council, before he held an elected office with the DCC.
Some members questioned whether it’s wise to endorse a candidate too early in the process, before the committee knows their true colors. James countered that the option of early endorsement doesn’t mean the DCC will endorse early every time.
“Elections are started earlier and being decided earlier,” he added.
Liccardo announced this week that he raised $512,000 in just the last three weeks of December, far surpassing other candidate totals, which may have heightened the sense of urgency. Cortese’s campaign said he raised $175,000 in December, while Nguyen reportedly tallied $169,000.