DNC: Honda’s replacement was ‘amicable’

Rep. Mike Honda’s replacement as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee this week was “all amicable,” a DNC spokesman told me today, hinting the South Bay Congressman can expect support even as a well-funded Democratic challenger might be emerging.

“His service to the president and the party won’t go unrecognized in the future,” DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said.

I’d written an item Tuesday about the DNC’s officer elections, linked to an article about contention over who would serve as secretary. DNC sources had told me that day that Honda, D-San Jose, had hoped to continue on as one of the party’s vice chairs, but that he withdrew from contention when he saw the writing on the wall; freshman Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii – whom Honda was helping raise campaign funds just months ago – now holds the post instead.

But Woodhouse said today that whether or not Honda initially had hoped to stay on, “by everything I’ve been told and everything I’ve observed … he was amenable, he was supportive” of the change.

“He was so terrific in this role, he was so terrific as a vice chair and representing the AAPI (Asian American/Pacific Islander) community,” Woodhouse said. “That’s going to be recognized. … He’s a key ally of the party and of the president.”

Such recognition and support could become crucial if Honda seeks another term. As I’d reported Monday, rumors abound that Ro Khanna – the former Obama Administration Commerce Department official who raised an eye-popping $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2011, but chose not to challenge Rep. Pete Stark in 2012 – may choose to run against Honda in the 17th District in 2014.

Khanna wouldn’t confirm this Monday, saying he’s still considering all his options, but the allure of running in the continental United States’ first majority AAPI district – from which Khanna derived much of his campaign war chest – must be significant. Khanna’s donor list also included some notable national Democratic donors, a sign of the strong network he has built over the past several years, but given Woodhouse’s words today it’ll be interesting to see how and whether the DNC brings pressure to bear should he challenge Honda.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Eye-poppin’ Ro, who makes my limbs tingle a la Chris Matthews, didn’t exactly take DC by storm while serving at Commerce during a lousy economy. I suppose he will now say he helped sow the seeds of recovery. While San Mateo drools over Asian-ancestry pols, ask the governors of South Carolina and Louisiana how critical the Asian vote has been for their careers.

  • Elwood

    Could it be that the ship has sailed without Ro?

  • Elwood

    A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Obama violated the Constitution when he made three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board last year.


  • JohnW

    Re #3

    The Supremes will have to decide. The DC Court of Appeals ruling contradicts a 2004 or 2005 ruling on recess appointments by another Federal appeals court. The DC court acknowledged the other ruling but disagreed with it.

    I went to the DC Court website and read the opinion. The decision was made by 3 conservative judges whose reasoning is clearly based on the Scalia “originalism” school of thought.

    Right or wrong, this ruling goes against 150 years of recess appointments, including so-called “intra-session” recess appointments similar to this. Clinton made 139 recess appointments. Bush 43 made 171. Obama has made 32.

    The case fact that made the NLRB recess appointments different from other intra-recess appointments was the fact that a lone senator “punched in” every couple of days to technically keep the Senate’s adjournment to less than the three days mentioned in Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution. The administration broke precedent by arguing that the this punching in process did not count as being in session and went ahead with the recess appointments. Dems invented the punching in procedure to stop recess appointments by Bush, who chose not to challenge that.

    However, the DC court’s opinion did not hinge on whether or not punching in satisfied the definition of being in session. They court went much further and ruled that “the Recess” mentioned in Article III, Section 2 (which gives the President authority to make recess appointments) refers only to the period between when one Congress ends and another begins. In other words, adjournments for Easter break and such would not count as “the Recess” for purposes of recess appointments. That would affect not only what Obama did but what many other Presidents have done.

    Stay tuned.

  • moderate voter

    Voters did away with gerrymandered congressional districts a few years back – we now have a non-partisan state commission drawing up the districts. The reason voters took redistricting away from the politicians is because they wanted competitive congressional elections in California, and we are getting them which is great to see.
    If former Commerce Department official Rho Khana runs in the 17th district – taking on elderly entrenched incumbent Mike Honda – he will be 73 if he runs for re-election in 2014, I think that’s a great thing. Democracy rocks. These so called “safe seats” were anti-democratic, we have had the same people in Congress year after year. They didn’t have to work hard, or even deliver for their constituents, or even bother to show up in the district if they didn’t feel like it.
    In the neighboring 15th congressional district voters just ousted elderly entrenched incumbent Pete Stark. He’d been in Congress 38 years, he was 81 years old, he hadn’t been effective years. Voters – in this non-gerrymandered newly drawn 15th congressional district decided – logically – to oust the elderly ineffective Stark and put a young guy in the job. They compared the two candidates, and then chose the candidate they thought would be best for the district going forward.
    A key variable in voters decision to get rid of gerrymandered districts is the desire for change. Voters were unhappy with the status quo, many believe – quite accurately – that Congress hasn’t been dealing effectively with national problems. These gerrymandered districts – which packed democrats and republicans into “safe seats”, led to hyper partisanship, and this partisanship has led to drift and stalemate in Washington DC. Nothing gets done, members just play partisan power games and kick the nations problems down the road.
    I feel strong a Khanna-Honda race in 2014 – if it happens – will be a positive thing. Voters will get to see and hear a real discussion of the issues, both candidates will be able to offer up their vision of where we are going as a nation, voters will get decide if they want to go with the entrenched incumbent Honda, or the youthful Khanna, just like they did in the Stark Swalwell race that just concluded.
    In the old order of things – politicians drawing up “safe seats” for themselves, the big winner was the political parties and incumbents themselves. But we voters – we were the losers, because we often got local representatives that didn’t seem to be around much (see Pete Stark), representatives that didn’t appear to be working very hard (Congress works three day work weeks), and representatives that didn’t seem to notice the horrific impact of the great recession on local residents.
    If Rho Khanna is sitting on the fence about running – this article says he is – I think he ought to strongly consider running. The national problems are not being effectively dealt with, voters can see this, and they want change. They want to know why so many people are out of work, on food stamps, or why US jobs are all going overseas, or why Congress only works a three day work week.
    Frankly – looking at the ouster of two long time members in the California democratic delegation in 2012 – Stark and Berman – I think ALL incumbents are vulnerable statewide in 2014 if another candidate comes along that offers a vision for the future.