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The 21st Century

Sep
9
2003

There’s a ton of background noise out there but the race to fill the 21st District Assembly seat being vacated by Democrat Joe Simitian is a good one to watch for some clues about Silicon Valley’s political future.
Tech Democrat Chris Kelly, 33, a former executive at Excite@Home and a Clinton administration staffer, announced his candidacy last week. Kelly says he’s entering the race mostly because Tech Republican Steve Poizner is running. Several other Democrats, most of them long-standing local politicians, are running but few have the financial wherewithal that Kelly and Poizner, both tech bubble vets, can summon.
Poizner, 46, announced his candidacy late last month. A former White House fellow, Poizner has started and sold two tech companies, SnapTrack and Strategic Mapping. And while he says he knows he running an uphill race — the 21st District is 45 percent Democratic — he thinks Silicon Valley’s politics are up for grabs, particularly this year.
“Silicon Valley voters are very frustrated right now,” Poizner said. “They consider themselves very independent when it comes to voting.” In other words, he thinks he’s got a chance and he’s done some polling to show he does.
Kelly says his entry in the race was, in part, triggered by Poizner’s deep pockets. “I don’t see any of the other candidates standing up to that,” says Kelly who can count a bunch of hightech household names as friends or acquaintances: Joe and Melissa Krause, state Controller Steve Westly, and on-line privacy advocate Chris Larsen. That should translate into contributions.
Tech candidates haven’t fared well when they leave the board room for the hustings, however. Westly won his race for state comptroller by a hair. But assembly candidate Dave Pine (once Kelly’s boss) fared poorly in his first run last year.
IN-BOX: Chris Kelly writes and provides a bit more about why he’s running for the 21st Assembly District, one that he says sets his race in a bit more context. “I’m running mainly because I want to serve the district, but I do think that it’s important to hold the seat for Democrats,” Kelly writes, pointing out that since the California Assembly is run by Democrats it’s better for constituents to be on the winning side, so to speak.
We’ll see. Steve Poizner seems pretty determined. And much of his ability to draw people to the Republican party is going to be affected, no doubt about it, by Total Recall and the drama being played out between Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock (who is clearly eyeing the next gov’s race as he continues to insist on campaigning in this one)

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 9:15 PM | Permalink

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