Asian American Commercial Watch: Congressman Mike Honda’s Attack Ad: “Speed Dial” Against Ro Khanna

Back in April, I had blogged that Ro Khanna was running  again (he first ran in 2014) against Congressman Mike Honda for California’s 17th Congressional District. Since then, I haven’t really been following that election except to see whether or not they both won and made it through the primary (since California has an open primary – the two top vote-getters make it to the general election – so it’s a Democrat vs. Democrat in November).

I was taken aback when I saw Honda’s attack ad against Khanna – probably a first where an Asian American Democrat is attacking another Asian American Democrat – only in California! Personally, I’m not sure how effective that attack ad is since Khanna is not exactly a household name and he isn’t a well know Silicon Valley tech mogul with ties to Wall Street, lobbyists or “extreme Republicans,” like a Peter Thiel. I think a label like “Wall $treet Ro” is kind of ridiculous, as the license plate on the limo in the commercial. Most people in Silicon Valley don’t have close ties to Wall Street, but do for tech.


However, Khanna has accepted donations from Peter Thiel, whom I find an awful, horrible person, as I think most of Silicon Valley does after Thiel openly supported Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention and spoke there. If Honda’s campaign was smart, they’d be all over Thiel’s support instead of this attack ad. Personally, I’d have a hard time voting for anybody who doesn’t repudiate Thiel – everything I’ve read about him makes me sick.

What kind of cracked me up is that the actor who is playing Khanna in the attack ad kind of reminded me of actor Kal Penn (of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle fame, currently on Designated Survivor).

I kind of have to agree, to a degree, this editorial in the local paper titled Mike Honda’s new ad diminishes him:

“On the merits of the issues, the ad is all wrong: Khanna wants to protect Social Security, scrapping the tax cap currently in place. He has written a book about American manufacturing and wants to create jobs in the United States as part of a plan to bring back money that companies hold abroad. He wants to close some of the more obvious tax loopholes for the rich. In a word, he is a progressive Democrat.

The Honda ad is really objectionable because it aims at a whole strata of people, suggesting that successful Indian-Americans are arrogant characters who want to do Wall Street’s bidding by outsourcing American jobs. Arrogance knows no race: And Honda should understand that.”

I didn’t necessarily see the attack ad as suggesting that Indian Americans are arrogant – just possibly Khanna.

What impressed a LOT recently was that former President Jimmy Carter had endorsed Khanna:

“Both candidates in the tight race to represent the 17th Congressional District announced key endorsements Monday, with Sen. Barbara Boxer backing incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Honda and former President Jimmy Carter supporting challenger Ro Khanna. … Meanwhile, Carter called Fremont attorney Khanna one of “the next generation of leaders for our country.” He met Khanna at the Carter Center 20 years ago and was impressed with the young intern’s “passion for human rights and economics” and cited Khanna’s efforts since then, including his stint with the Commerce Department under the Obama Administration and his publication of a book on American economics.”

When I saw that endorsement, I was like – wow. I think a lot of Americans admire President Carter as our best ex-President with his post-Presidential humanitarian efforts. This kind of makes up for Khanna accepting a donation from Thiel.

Personally, I am not really for either candidate since I can’t vote for either of them – I don’t live in that Congressional district. As I have blogged before, I was kind of disappointed with Honda’s debate performance against Khanna in 2014. I have attended Honda fundraisers in the past, but more because I wanted to meet actor and activist George Takei and former Ambassador to China and Governor Gary Locke.

If I had to make a prediction, I think Khanna will prevail this time around. Honda is an eight-term incumbent.  With age discrimination being rampant in Silicon Valley, I hate to say this, but I think Honda has not kept up with his tech savvy constituents and issues in Silicon Valley as he should be (as opposed to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, in neighboring 14th Congressional District – which I consider the heart of Silicon Valley – where Google and Facebook are headquartered, and similar in age as Honda). Honda has been a civic and civil rights leader for decades, but I think Khanna is probably someone more appropriate for that Congressional District.


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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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