An accidental switcheroo of Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s candidate questionnaire led some politicos to believe that Helen Wang—one of a few contenders in San Jose’s District 10 City Council race—lied about several endorsements.
Turns out, the mistake was on the Leadership Group’s part.
The business lobbying association revealed that it had inadvertently swapped Wang’s questionnaire with that of District 2 council candidate—and fellow Republican—Jonathan Fleming. SVLG corrected the mix-up on Tuesday by uploading the right form under the right name on its candidate Q&A landing page.
So that got cleared up.
But Wang still apparently misled voters about some of her biggest backers, namely Milpitas Unified School District Trustee Michael Tsai and soon-to-term-out D10 Councilman Johnny Khamis.
Up until Monday evening when Wang quietly removed his name, Tsai was listed under the endorsements tab on her campaign website. The trustee’s name popped up once again in connection with the D10 hopeful, a local businesswoman, when the Leadership Group fixed the questionnaire forms Tuesday morning. Tsai, a freshman school board member, was listed as one of Wang’s top 10 endorsements online.
But Tsai told this news organization that he hasn’t formally backed anyone in the D10 race, which pits Wang against ex-Brigade CEO Matt Mahan and former Bay Area Women’s March President Jenny Higgins Bradanini.
The flub, Tsai added, is probably an oversight on Wang’s part. “I think any endorsement discussion should happen before anyone’s name gets put up there,” he said. “I think a lot of times there is confusion going around with campaigns, and rumors start spreading.”
But Wang said she did have that conversation with Tsai. “I put him down, but now he tells me he can’t remember (the endorsement conversation),” she said. “So I’m happy to remove (his) name.”
Wang also used Khamis’ name as a “key endorsement” in an Aug. 1 press release that announced her candidacy. The Almaden Valley councilman, who has his eyes set on state Sen. Jim Beall’s seat, said that Wang is a longtime friend of his but that he won’t be endorsing anyone vying to succeed him—at least, not in the primary.
Khamis said he believes Wang’s falsely advertised endorsement was a “novice” gaffe that could have stemmed from him accepting an invitation to speak at her campaign kickoff. Khamis also made the rounds at Mahan’s campaign commencement in mid-September. “I’m sure it’s an innocent mistake,” Khamis said in his friend’s defense. “She’s not a malicious person.”
Wang said that, to her understanding, Khamis originally planned to endorse her, but because she filed her paperwork so late in the game he ultimately decided not to officially back anyone in the race. Regardless, this is her first run for office, she said, and the whole experience has been more than a little daunting.
“I’m not really a politician,” she said.