Ro Khanna Speaking at Santa Clara, California campaign office opening
One of the most closely watched Congressional races in 2014, especially from an Asian American and Democratic Party perspective, was when Indian American Ro Khanna challenged long-time incumbent Japanese American and Asian American community leader Congressman Mike Honda.
I covered that race closely, having the opportunity to interview Khanna (my outreach to Honda’s team didn’t go anywhere), attend a few Honda fundraisers – primarily to meet actor & activist George Takei and former U.S. ambassador to China and Governor of Washington Gary Locke, and attend the television debate between them. Ultimately, Congressman Honda prevailed – though barely, defeating Khanna 51.8% to 48.2%.
I only started really following Khanna’s run for re-election when I saw he was having a campaign office opening recently in Santa Clara back in February that was only a few miles from where I worked, and also wanted to congratulate him in person for getting married last August.
What got me to finally blog about Khanna’s campaign was seeing that the the local San Jose Mercury News editorial staff formerly endorsed Khanna:
“In 2014, we recommended Ro Khanna over veteran U.S. Rep. Mike Honda for Congress in the 17th District.
Honda narrowly kept his seat. But a few things have changed since then.
One is that President Barack Obama has withdrawn his support from Honda. It is highly unusual for a sitting president to not support an incumbent of his party.
Another is an ongoing investigation by the House Ethics Committee into evidence that Honda’s office mingled campaigning with office work on the public’s dime. This likely is why Obama backed away, although it may have helped that he knows Khanna, having appointed him a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
We are more than ever convinced that Khanna will best represent the Silicon Valley district, stretching from Cupertino through North San Jose to Newark. Vote for him June 7.
A moderate, pro-business Democrat, Khanna has strong values and can intelligently discuss complex challenges. Honda speaks in platitudes. Khanna grasps the nuances of Silicon Valley, and while we may disagree on specific issues, we don’t doubt his independence or thoughtfulness.
There are five others in the race, including, weirdly, a last-minute bid by San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio. A runoff is certain, so this will be a long campaign. Khanna deserves to prevail.”
In 2014, I didn’t think Khanna was going to win, mostly because of Honda being an incumbent (with a lot of name recognition) and a generally well liked and respected leader in the Asian American community. Personally, I was kind of disappointed with Honda’s performance in the 2014 debate. Having been in Congress for over a decade, I thought Honda could have articulated his accomplishments and arguments much, much better.
Given the close election in 2014, Honda’s ongoing investigation (which personally I don’t find that big a deal – it’s kind of hard to separate personal-work life these days; I blogged most of this posting at work on a work computer – during a break, of course), and I think a growing desire in Silicon Valley – especially amongst the tech community leadership, someone a bit more tech policy savvy, I think Khanna will prevail over Honda. To be honest, given the dysfunction in Congress, I am surprised Honda hasn’t retired yet – especially under a Republican controlled House.
Note, I do not live in this Congressional district and can’t vote for Khanna or Honda. I’ll be voting to re-elect Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. Personally, I am all for people being pro-for-someone, but I am really against anti-candidate arguments for candidates in the same party with similar policies. I’m pro-Bernie and a fan of Senator Bernie Sanders before most people knew about Sanders, but support Secretary Hillary Clinton. All the anti-Bernie and anti-Hillary bashing really annoys me given the fact that they are both running to be the Democratic presidential nominee to run again presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. So if you’re for Khanna or Honda, that’s great. Just don’t go around bashing their opponent. I’m 100% though for protesting against Donald Trump 🙂