The retirement of Rep. Anna Eshoo has touched off a race between California Democrats Sam Liccardo, Stanford professor and former mayor of San Jose; former state senator Joe Simitian, and Assemblyman Evan Low. Liccardo and Low will face off in November and educational credentials have become an issue.

Liccardo earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown, a JD from Harvard Law School and an MPP from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Low’s assembly campaign website says that after earning degrees from De Anza Community College and San Jose State, he “went on to graduate from the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University,” a claim repeated in Low’s assembly biography.

Some news stories even claimed Low earned a degree from Harvard, and that caught the attention of California Globe reporter Evan Symon. As he learned, Low has only a certificate from Harvard’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program, which is “offered to virtually anyone and is 100 percent online.”

Harvard law alum Matt Riley told Symon “don’t say you got a degree from Harvard or graduated from Harvard when you just went for the certificate program.” Riley speculates that Low may be trying to compete with Liccardo, but it wasn’t the first time a politician inflated credentials.

Los Angeles Democrat John Perez ran for the state Assembly in 2008, claiming that he graduated from UC Berkeley, prize campus of the University of California system. Perez’s claim was repeated in official biographies by Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, California Gov. Gray Davis, and many newspaper articles.

As it happened, Perez entered UC Berkeley in 1987 and pursued a major in Chicano Studies, strictly speaking not an academic disciple. Perez left UC Berkeley in 1990 and worked as the political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The union activist never returned to UC Berkeley and never completed his degree. That sort of fakery can wreck a career but Perez found favor with politicians.

In 2010 Perez was elected Speaker of the Assembly. In 2014, recurring Gov. Jerry Brown appointed John Perez to the University of California Board of Regents. In May of 2019, the regents made Perez chairman of the board. The UC Berkeley dropout worked tirelessly for the lowering of standards, including suspension of the SAT, which he called an “artificial barrier.”

Last February Gov. Gavin Newsom reappointed Perez to the UC Board of Regents, with a term stretching to 2036. That is quite the privileged post for a college dropout who was never an academic or educator in any meaningful sense.

Assemblyman Evan Low now wants to represent the 16th congressional district and appears to believe Harvard associations will help him. As Matt Riley told the California Globe, “a lot of people within a state love it when you decided to graduate in-state and there is also the Ivy burn, where people gloss over you because you went to Harvard or Princeton.”

As Low and Liccardo might note, Harvard has been embroiled in a lawsuit over discrimination against Asian students. Harvard president Claudine Gay resigned in January over charges of plagiarism in her doctoral decision and academic works. And in Ivy League circles, anti-Semitism is on the rise according to Johns Hopkins professor Benjamin Ginsberg, author of The New American Anti-Semitism The Left, the Right, and the Jews.

“Animus toward Jews, and in some cases outright hatred of Jews, has become endemic on U.S. campuses,” writes Ginsberg. “This includes not only elite schools such as Harvard University, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania but also across the higher education ecosystem.” That now includes UCLA and UC Berkeley, among others.

Candidates might think twice about touting their associations with Ivy League and UC campuses alike. Voters may be more interested in candidates’ actual record in office and their plans for reform, if any.