Five candidates are competing for Jerry Hill’s state Senate seat. The primary is next March. It looks like it could be a very close race with a variety of candidates in the mix. There is Sally Lieber of Mountain View, a former city councilwoman and state assemblymember; Annie Oliva, a Realtor and Millbrae councilwoman; Shelly Masur, a Redwood City councilwoman and director of an education nonprofit. She formerly served on the Redwood City Elementary School District board; Michael Brownrigg, Burlingame councilman and nonprofit investor; and Josh Becker, of Menlo Park, nonprofit entrepreneur. He was formerly CEO of Lex Machina, a legal analytics firm.

To date, Becker leads in fundraising with over $661,000. Next comes Brownrigg with more than $374,000. Masur has raised more than $211,000; Olivia has raised more than $197,000. Lieber has raised slightly more than $23,000 but has given $200,000 to the campaign. Brownrigg has contributed $50,000 to his. Most of Becker’s major contributors are tech firms or individuals including Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook; and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman and John and Ann Doerr. Much of Masur’s big funders come from labor unions. Oliva’s funders are primarily fellow Realtors. Lieber’s contributors are mainly fellow progressives.

The district runs from South San Francisco to Sunnyvale so it is important to attract support from both counties. San Mateo County comprises the biggest part of the district but cities like Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Mountain View have a significant number of voters. To date, Becker and Masur have been most successful in gaining endorsements from both counties. Brownrigg’s support is primarily within San Mateo County but it looks as if he will be able to compete financially in getting the word out. Neither Lieber or Oliva have websites which list their endorsements. It is doubtful that any one of the five will win an outright victory in March. It will probably be two who will have to compete in November. It is doubtful a Republican candidate will emerge who will receive more votes than the top Democratic candidates. To date it looks as if Becker, Masur and Brownrigg have the best chance to be in a runoff election in the fall of 2020. Lieber, however, has the support of many progressive activists and she could be the “dark horse” in the race. Local progressives showed their muscle when they won the most delegates to represent Hill and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin’s district at the recent state Democratic Convention.

Each of these candidates has something to offer so voters will have some excellent choices. Endorsements and fundraising are important. Here is a sample of three of the candidates posted endorsements. You can read the entire list on their websites.

Brownrigg has the support of his colleagues on the Burlingame City Council, Supervisor David Canepa of Daly City (whose district is not in this state Senate district); former supervisor John Ward, Atherton Mayor Bill Widmer; Belmont Councilman Doug Kim; San Mateo Councilman Joe Goethals, and several Burlingame and other local school board members.

Masur has state Treasurer Fiona Ma, several assemblymembers; a Santa Clara County supervisor; all members of the Belmont City Council (except Kim) and a majority of the Redwood City Council (barring Mayor Ian Bain, who has not endorsed a candidate in the race and Councilwoman Diane Reddy, who is endorsing Lieber) ; Mike Kasperzak, former mayor of Mountain View; and many many school board members and educators.

Becker has the endorsement of Gov. Gavin Newsom, several assemblymembers; San Mateo County supervisors Warren Slocum and David Canepa.; San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo; councilmembers in Los Altos and Mountain View; several educators including Anne Campbell, former San Mateo County superintendent of schools; and two members of the San Mateo City Council, Maureen Freschet and Eric Rodriguez. To date, no endorsements from Hill, Mullin and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier.


Equinox and SoulCycle are owned by a major contributor to Donald Trump’s campaign. When this became known many loyal customers of these two companies decided to exercise elsewhere. Wonder if this will impact their business in downtown San Mateo.

Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at

Note to readers: this article has been amended to accurately portray the endorsements from the Redwood City Council. 

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(2) comments

Dirk van Ulden

I don't think those are loyal customers. Would you dance in the street if Trump supporters started boycotting businesses owned by fund raisers for Democratic candidates? Trump supporters are adhering to the real American values including the support for a candidate of one's choice, not one dictated by the leftist loonies.


Good article Sue, thank you

Sadly is comes down to money the candidate has to spend on advertising, of which indicative to me that the vast majority of voters out there are swayed by marketing. Most times BS marketing

Forces folks to find filters they like/agree with/trust. League of women voters has consistently been my go to for information, plus many others.

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