President Obama endorses Mike Honda for 2014

If former Commerce Department official Ro Khanna does decide to run against Rep. Mike Honda in 2014, it looks like he’ll be doing it without the support of his former boss, the President of the United States.

Honda’s staff issued a release early this morning announcing that President Obama has endorsed him for re-election in the 17th Congressional District, certainly one of the earliest endorsements of the 2014 congressional campaign cycle.

Obama and Honda“Congressman Mike Honda is the right leader for the 17th district. Together, we’ve worked hard these last four years to bring meaningful, positive change to our nation, but there is much more to do,” Obama said. “As we continue rebuilding our economy from the middle out, we know expanding educational opportunities is critical. Congressman Honda’s lifelong commitment to education and fierce advocacy for innovation and technology is exactly what this nation needs as we continue to move America forward.

“We need Congressman Mike Honda in the United States Congress, and I urge you to vote to keep him there.”

In response, Honda said he’s honored by the president’s endorsement.

“Over the past four years, I’ve worked closely with President Obama and his administration to keep Silicon Valley equipped to lead in the areas of manufacturing, education and high-tech innovation,” Honda said. “California’s 17th is one of the most dynamic and diverse districts in America, sitting at the epicenter of ideas, innovation, and technological leadership. I look forward to continuing to work with the President and his administration, bringing my real life experience, my record of accomplishments, and vision for America’s road ahead, to the lives of my constituents.”

I’d reported a week ago today that Khanna, 36 – who had raised a record-breaking $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2011, but chose not to run against Rep. Pete Stark in 2012 – was considering taking on Honda, D-San Jose, instead of Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, who beat Stark last year. Khanna had said last Monday only that he’s still considering all his options.

Honda last Tuesday was replaced as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but while I’d heard he’d wanted to keep that job yet was ousted, a DNC spokesman went out of his way Friday to say Honda, 71, had the party’s and president’s deep gratitude for his service, which wouldn’t go unrecognized in the future.

Apparently the future is now. Honda’s speed in getting and publicizing this endorsement is testament both to his deep ties within the party and to his desire to nip Khanna’s nascent challenge in the bud as soon as possible. Nobody wants a challenger with almost $1.3 million in the bank AND momentum.

UPDATE @ 1:19 P.M.: Khanna declined to comment.

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.

  • Independent Voter

    Well this is really no surprise as the President has a policy of endorsing incumbents. The fact that Congressman Honda seeked the President’s endorsement so early shows that he is clearly worried about his candidacy as he should be with a formidable candidate like Ro Khanna. President Obama also endorsed Congressman Pete Stark in the last election cycle, but he was still defeated by Eric Swalwell. I would be very surprised if this scares Khanna in any way. In fact, I think this will increase the fire in his belly substantially. Regardless, the CD17 race is going to be an exciting one to watch in 2014!

  • GV Haste

    What a refreshing notion that even long term incumbents are at risk.

    My advice to Honda, lose about 30 to 50 pounds over the next 18 months. Seriously, he comes off looking out of shape and not up to vital representation of the people. Appearances do matter, especially when you pass age 70. Pete Stark said foolish things, but he also looked foolish on more than one occassion.
    Voters notice such superficial things.

  • moderate voter

    I do recall President OBama endorsed Pete Stark for re-election to Congress, but it didn’t help, the 81 year old Stark was ousted by voters after 38 years in Congress. Also endorsing Stark for re-election was numerous other bay area Democratic bigwigs such as 78 year old Senator Dianne Feinstein, 72 year old Senator Barbara Boxer, and 80 year old state party chair John Burton. I recall Mike Honda – at age 71 – claiming Pete Stark was still at top of game! I mean that was so obviously not true, it was just laughable, really. Stark may have not looked old to Honda – but to most of the rest of the voters he seemed ancient.
    I do think it’s time for the younger generation to get a chance to run things, I was so very impressed with this young Eric Swalwell, age 32, who beat the 38 year veteran Stark – pretty easily, given Stark was dean of California delegation. The House leadership must have been impressed with him too because they quickly moved to appoint Swalwell assistant whip.
    My own read is that voters – regardless of whether they have long term incumbent representing them or not, are not in the mood to rubber stamp incumbent representatives. If another good candidate throws their hat in the ring, they will be receptive. Voters, of course, got rid of gerrymandered districts a few years back, they wanted competition in House races in California, and we are getting in now.
    I was reading yesterday in SF Chronicle that California has the third highest rate of unemployment rate in US. One in six Californians live in poverty, six million Californians live in poverty, said the article, and that includes a lot of children, of course. Given this I don’t see how Mike Honda – or any other incumbent Congressman can rest on their laurels. Fact is states like South Dakota are beating us in job creation front – bad – that’s embarrassing, California used to be job engine of US economy. You can easily see a key reason the US economy in doldrums is because the California economy – traditionally the nation’s job engine – is in shambles.
    Because of this I think voters in the 17th district might be receptive to a candidate – like Rho Khanna – who has concrete ideas on how to put Californian’s back to work. I was just reading excerpts of his book on revitalizing of US manufacturing sector. I thought he was just high tech guy, but he apparently is obsessed with reviving the US manufacturing sector. He wants to see plants in the US churning out products, and employing US workers. I find this exciting, here we have a possible candidate in the 17th who has got eye on the prize, which is to put people back to work.
    In looking at the Democratic leadership in Northern California you can readily see many haven’t gotten pretty old, this is happening during a time when job’s are disappearing, poverty is on the rise, going though the roof. Given this does it make sense to keep rubber stamping this aging leadership? I think maybe it’s time we go with younger leaders, which is why I was thrilled to see this Eric Swalwell get elected. Rho Khanna could be another new young leader who can shake things up, so I encourage him to strongly consider running in the 17th. Voters, of course, are the big winners when we have real Congressional elections, a real discussion of issues.

  • Elwood

    Now if someone could only remove the venerable (38 years) George Miller from Congress.

    I think Ro may have missed the boat.

    Why do I keep hearing “Ro,ro,ro your boat” in my head?

  • Shobana Ramamurthi

    I had always respected Congressman Honda and believed him to be a man free of dirty politics. However this current move of his, has me second guessing. He must be really nervous about Ro Khanna for him to resort to manipulating and exploiting our President’s good will. Honda must have realized if Obama comes to know about his opponent Ro, he may not endorse him so he approached our President even before Ro announced his candidacy. He probably even feared that Obama might endorse Ro. This is surely a clever plan. Well played, Mr.Honda but remember that people are not fools and they are paying attention.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    RK wants to revive manufacturing. Well, he ain’t gonna dol it with the lazy, semiliterate dropouts hanging out in Fruitvale, Compton and the delightful Central Valley barrios waiting for the chance to tell TV reporters all they want is the chance to demonstrate their “skills” to eager employers.

  • JohnW

    I don’t recall many presidents of either party getting into the business of endorsing House candidates, even incumbents, before they make it to the general election by winning a primary. Senate, yes. House, no. Somebody in leadership, like Pelosi, sure. But not rank and filers like Stark and Honda. I don’t see how it’s in the president’s political interest to get involved.

  • Alcoahead

    I don’t see Obama (or Pelosi, or Hoyer, or Wasserman, or anyone of any leadership role) coming out and endorsing Smellwell as THE guy for the 15th CD of California — even with his vaunted (ya, right!) “Ride with your Rep” stunt (as if anyone like a voter can carry on a cogent conversation with someone else liker a congressmember while riding a bicycle at 15 mph — or was THAT ther goal since Smellwell has NO clue about how to answer unscripted answers?)

    This is a clear signal to Khanna, a former team player in the Obama administration (unlike Smellwell, who clearly takes his orders from Mamma Tauscher) that “the 2014 playbook means leave Honda alone” — so, Ro, go after Smellwell and “all is well, including getting access to the Obama 2012 donors database for fundraising and doorknocking purposes”.

  • Elwood

    @ #8

    “(as if anyone like a voter can carry on a cogent conversation with someone else liker a congressmember while riding a bicycle at 15 mph”

    Obviously you know nothing about cycling and have never seen a bicycle race. It is quite possible to have a conversation at 40 mph.

  • Independent Voter

    I don’t think Khanna needs access to the Obama donor base. I read somewhere last year that over 70% of his donors in 2011 were new donors who had never contributed to a political candidate before. Regardless, something tells me that he will have no problems raising a significant amount of money for his race, hence the reason Congressman Honda is showing signs of fear and desperation by getting the President to endorse before Khanna even makes a formal announcement. Remember, the President endorsed Pete Stark last year. Look at how that worked out for him.

  • GV Haste

    Alcoahead …(man with the tinfoil hat)

    With opposition such as yourself, Swalwells chances seem greatly enhanced for 2014.

  • Alcoahead

    @9 —

    Really? 40 mph and talking in an engaged, cogent fashion about politics?

    That’s something the now-disgraced Lance Armstrong couldn’t manage — since his average speed on the last TdF was only around 33 to 34 mph, and I seriously doubt he was focused (or able to focus) on anything but the road ahead, and the cyclists alongside him, yet alone speak about things like “the looming debt crisis”.

    But, hey, what do you know? He only won 7 TdFs, even if he did lie like Rush Limbaugh to get them…

  • Elwood

    I seriously doubt that the boys in the Tour peloton talk about politics, but they do talk and laugh and smile.

    By the way average speed does not equal top speed. It includes a lot of low speed climbing, but they haul ass on the level straights and the descents.

  • Alcoahead

    @13 —


  • GV Haste

    Alcoahead is clearly NOT a cyclist or familiar with the typical cycling crowd.
    That crowd is fit enough to ride at 15 to 20 mph and talk for a hour or more, discussing all manner of things.
    Heck what do you think they are doing out there every Saturday and Sunday, just breathlessly pedaling in a group with no one chatting away.

    Apparently you are completely ignorant of cycling, or totally out of shape the one time you tried it.

    Cylcing is one of the very best places to have conversations of considerable length.
    Finally a local congressman who is fit enough to get off his rear. Imagine Stark, Honda, Miller, Lee, Pelosi or any of the other calcified gang trying to pedal along

    One thing I’ll say for Jerry Brown is that he is a fit 70+… and runs on a regular basis.

    As I said earlier, the best thing Honda could do to improve his image as being vital, would be to drop about 25 to 50 pounds.

  • JohnW

    Re #15 GV Haste

    Oh good. Now we’re going to judge candidates for political office based on their physical fitness. Sorry, Governor Christie.

  • Elwood

    Well, here’s another criterion:

    SecState Clinton’s performance has been described as excellent based on one million frequent flier miles.

  • GV Haste

    #16, Indeed, when Gov. Christie is being evaluated for president in 2016, his weight should be one consideration.
    He is sometimes cited as being 334 lbs though he appears to be easily over 350.
    It calls into question as to whether he could survive 8 years as president.

    Hopefully he can find a way to drop a minimum of 50 pounds. He really needs to lose 100 pounds.
    Bill Clinton has found a way.
    Even Al Sharpton has become slender.