Nancy Pelosi endorses Mike Honda for 2014

OK, OK, we get it already: The Democratic Party’s top leaders do NOT want former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna to challenge fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in 2014.

Just days after President Obama’s outlandishly early endorsement of Honda, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed Honda today as well.

Pelosi and Honda“Congressman Mike Honda’s life has been a tribute to the quintessential American ideals of equality and opportunity for all,” Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said in a news release from Honda’s campaign. “From a childhood spent in an internment camp, Mike has risen to the heights of American leadership – as one of the top Democrats on the powerful Appropriations Committee and a critical voice for fairness, the rights of LGBT couples and all families.

“Mike is a bold and effective leader who understands the needs of Silicon Valley and the 17th District, ensuring American competitiveness and fighting for American manufacturing, comprehensive immigration reform, STEM education, and technological innovation,” Pelosi continued. “We need his continued leadership for our nation in the House of Representatives, and I am proud to endorse him.”

Honda, 71, said he’s honored by Pelosi’s endorsement.

“Since my first campaign for Congress in 2000, Leader Pelosi’s guidance, support, and leadership have been imperative. She is the beacon of our Democratic Party here in the Bay Area and throughout the nation, and I am thankful for her endorsement,” he said. “I am proud to represent one of the nation’s most diverse districts, here in Silicon Valley – our nation’s hub of technology and innovation – and I look forward to continue working with Leader Pelosi on an agenda that keeps our Valley and our nation moving forward.”

Obama’s and Pelosi’s endorsements clearly are meant as howitzers trained squarely at any trial balloon that Khanna, 36, may care to float; he has said only that he’s considering his options, and he had declined to comment on Obama’s endorsement.

Still, Honda wouldn’t be wasting this kind of ammo on someone unless he sees that person as a threat. Khanna is the former Commerce Department official who raised a record-breaking $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2011 but chose not to run against Pete Stark, D-Fremont. Stark subsequently was unseated by Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, and rumor has it Khanna’s focus has shifted to Honda’s 17th Congressional District, home to many of Khanna’s donors and the first majority Asian-American district in the continental United States.

Don’t forget: Obama and Pelosi had endorsed Stark, too, and the 17th District has a much higher percentage of no-party-preference voters – almost 32 percent – who won’t feel a need to vote in accordance with the party’s wishes.

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

    Honda is behaving like a child getting picked on at school, then has his parents step in to fight his battles for him. In all seriousness, I think this makes him look extremely weak and scared. Not tough enough to fight his own battles.

    What I find curious about this is that Pelosi has been a strong supporter of Khanna for years. She attended his first fundraiser at Vinod Khosla’s home in 2011 and gave a warm, glowing, and supportive speech about him to a room of 200+ people. I’m sure she still has a tremendous amount of respect for Khanna, but since she is the Minority Leader she’s in the awkward position of having to endorse the incumbent candidate which makes sense.

    I would bet my last dollar that Pelosi is secretly hoping Khanna runs and beats Honda. She was probably a little annoyed that Honda asked for her endorsement so soon, but she did it to follow protocol. Hers and the President’s endorsement really don’t mean squat. It sure didn’t help Pete Stark. Voters see right through this and are smarter than that.

    I wonder who Honda will get for his next endorsement. The Pope???

  • Partisan Voter

    I get that Obama & Pelosi don’t want Khanna to run against Honda, but why not just tell him privately? Why endorse so early in the game?

  • moderate voter

    As I understand it, soon to be termed out Democrat State Senator Ellen Corbett is gearing up to run for Congress in 2014, taking on newly elected Congressman Eric Swalwell in the 15th district. The Contra Costa Times political editor says Corbett is showing up at Contra Costa County political events, which is a pretty good indicator she is running, given she does not now represent Contra Costa , but will if she can take Swalwell out.
    If that’s the case then I don’t see why we shouldn’t have a contested Democratic primary in the 17th district as well in 2014. I think a Mike Honda-Rho Khanna race would be exciting, let’s have a real election, a real discussion of the issues. I think voters benefit when you have contested elections, I think they like them too, in the old days – before the open primary – we had the same candidates dumped on us year after year, same faces. It was pretty dull.
    Frankly I think the termed out Corbett’s plan to run in the 15th makes little sense. Voters in that district just gave the job to 32 year old Eric Swalwell, they seem to like him, I think the average voter would take the position let’s give Swalwell some time to show what he can do. I think her status as a termed out legislator – she needs a job – will not be helpful if and when she runs. Voters don’t much like politicians these days, when one gets termed out they get a vicarious thrill – they love it – so if she runs I think they will continue to term her out by not voting for her for Congress.
    While Corbett’s run in the 15th makes little sense a, a possible run by Rho Khana in the 17th makes a lot of sense. Honda is pretty old – he will be 73 in 2014, which is retirement age. Honda is an ultra liberal – like Pete Stark – but in the new schemes of things that’s probably a negative. In a contested democratic primary you will have the same situation you had in the Stark-Swalwell race, it’s likely the top two democrats will run first and second in the primary. In the general the winner will be the candidate who can woo moderate and conservative voters. Here Honda’s ultra liberal record will doom him. Khanna, as an ex-Commerce official, has strong ties to the NorCAl business community. They like him, and will probably go all out for him.
    Because of this new open primary system I think you are going to see fewer ultra partisan liberal Democrats – like Pete Stark and Mike Honda – and more moderate, business friendly democratic candidates emerging. That’s not saying that labor and traditional activist democrats won’t have a role in elections – obviously they will continue to – but I do think Congressional candidates or incumbents won’t be able to ignore moderates, conservatives, or the business community either. That’s what Pete Stark did, and you know what happen to him.
    Frankly – in the closed primary system, which also included these hideous gerrymandered districts – what would happen is the Democrat members would take orders from labor leaders, while the Republican members would take their orders from big business and the chamber of commerce. That’s a simplification, but not really an exaggeration, I mean this this the reason we’ve had all this ultra- partisanship in California, in a state that has weak political parties. I mean you have these partisan wars going on 24/7 yet the average Cal voter has zero ties to any party.
    In looking at the Honda-Khanna race I think the state of the economy two years from now will be critical. If we have the same crummy economy – that seems likely, then Honda will really be in trouble. The thing I keep hearing – I’m a blue collar worker that’s just scraping by – is the following ” These middle class jobs are never coming back”. I hear this over and over in the media, I see no indicator any return to the way things used to be on the horizon. If that’s the case, then I think a longtime ultra-liberal incumbent like Mike Honda would be vulnerable to a candidate like Khanna, who has a strong back round in the job creation area. Bottom line, the California economy has completely tanked, it continues to tank, and if things don’t change Mike Honda – and other Representatives will be out of job in 2014.

  • Curious

    What’s Khanna’s background in the job creation area?

  • Publius

    #3 Moderate Democrat Voter

    “, let’s have a real election,” and “the average Cal voter has zero ties to any party.”

    California is so corrupted by those that gain from the Democrat political agenda that we may never have a “real” election. If your average Californian has no tie to a political party then why is this state so blue. We have a dem super majority at the State level and at a local level 90% of our elected officials kiss the Progressive ring. Unless the Sate of California can fundamentally change, we will continue to have Dem vs. Dem elections, we will continue our economic road to Greece and we will continue to see our successful citizens flee.

    In the end there is no difference between Honda, Khanna, Stark, or Corbett. They all will sing different tunes trying to get your vote, but once sworn in they will march to the beat of the same drum.

    On a visual note:

    I hail from the Delta region and I have seen first hand the effects of the wicked drug Meth (or Crank). Nancy looks ready for a 4 day run, she has that wide eyed crankster stare. It also looks like she is suffering from the affliction called meth mouth.

  • Ted Lawrence

    This is like the Shakespeare play, “Much ado about nohing.” Khanna was considering running for the seat when it was believed that Mike Honda was retiring (which he has told several people he may do). Khanna has also told many people that he wouldn’t run against Honda. However Honda got his back up because he want’s to pick his own successor and turned this into something it’s not and forced the leadership of the Democratic party to jump through hoops to say that they still love him. Khanna will not run against Honda, but will beat anyone else if the seat is open and people like Pelosi will endorse him if that happens. This is all about Honda trying to pain him as a bad guy so he can pick his own successor.

  • JohnW

    Re #4 Curious — What’s Khanna’s background in the job creation area?

    He’s an expert in intellectual property law (patents), which is of vital importance to high tech companies. He was also involved in international trade missions while working in the Commerce department. His background is neither better nor worse than Mike Honda’s, just different.

    Honda’s personal story and path to Congress are compelling. You can see why there would be loyalty from Pelosi and Obama in spite of Honda’s age. According to Wikipedia:

    Lived in Japanese internment camp in World War 2. Knows a thing or two about civil liberties.

    Served in Peace Corps.

    Was a science teacher, school principal, school board member and educational researcher at Stanford.

    Served on a local planning commission and Board of Supervisors before being elected to Congress.

  • JohnW

    Re: 6 Publius (comment about Pelosi)

    From what you said, it seems you’re not joking about the Meth comment. I think we can safely assume Pelosi is not a druggie. What you’re looking at is likely the effect of repeated Botox treatment.

  • Amused to Death

    Apparently Honda has been going around the district this week telling people that he’s been a father figure to Khanna, which is completely false and absurd. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was the only Congressperson in the Bay Area who didn’t write a letter of recommendation for Khanna when he was seeking an appointment with the Administration back in 2008. He is also the only Congressperson who didn’t attend any of Khanna’s fundraising events in 2011 when he committed to attending two events. He made lame excuses at the last minute not to attend either event. Nancy Pelosi, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, and Norm Mineta all enthusiastically attended events for Khanna, but not Honda! Father figure my arse! He has done everything in his power to try and stunt every promising young Asian-American’s growth who he viewed as a threat. Now he using his seat in Congress as a bully pulpit going around the community and intimidating local leaders. And he’s lying through his teeth as well. In reality, he’s scared to death of Khanna. If he thinks he’s so unbeatable, why is he soliciting endorsements from the President and minority leader 2 years in advance before anyone has announced they are running against him? I hope Khanna doesn’t back off because these endorsements really don’t mean anything! Also, the fact that Pelosi and others attended events in the past, clearly show that they are not against Khanna winning a Congressional seat, they just have to endorse because it is protocol to endorse their colleagues. Eric Swalwell beat Pete Stark without the major endorsements. People say that Pete Stark is no Mike Honda. Well Swalwell is no Khanna. If you look at the voter registration breakdown and the median age in CD17, it is obvious that Khanna has an excellent shot at not only winning, but winning convincingly. If he builds a strong ground game, he will eat Honda alive for breakfast and Honda knows it! It comes down to the voters, not a bunch of shady endorsements.

  • Alcoahead

    Amused to Death Says:

    “…Swalwell is no Khanna….”

    Truer words were never spoken on this blog.

  • Elwood

    Here’s the difference between Swalwell and Khanna.

    Swalwell took a chance. He’s in Congress.

    Who the hell knows where Khanna is?

  • Alcoahead

    @11 —

    Apparently YOU don’t.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, then to post on a blog like this and remove all doubt.

  • Elwood

    “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, then to post on a blog like this and remove all doubt.”

    You’re right.

    But try not to get too down on yourself.

  • JohnW

    Re: #11

    “Swalwell took a chance. He’s in Congress.”

    This is true, and it appears I misjudged the guy, dismissing him due to his half-term city council experience and his poor performance at the first candidate forum in Dublin.

    During his hour-long interview and caller Q&A on KGO radio Friday morning, he seemed well-informed and quick on his feet on a range of issues, foreign and domestic. As an example, one caller asked about his views on Fed policy. The caller was clearly an elderly person who was anti-Fed due to her inability to get any return on her savings under virtually zero interest rate conditions. Swalwell was quick to point out that, had Congress done its job on fiscal policy, the Fed wouldn’t have to be the only show in town for keeping the economy from tanking. I agree with that and thought it was a very sophisticated response for a rookie. Plus, he told the caller what he thought, not what she wanted to hear.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Khanna’s song: “How ya gonna keep him /down on the farm/ after he’s seen DC”

  • GV Haste

    #14, I heard Swalwell on KGO like you did.

    I’ll tell you, with another 20 months under his belt, he is not going to be easy to beat.
    Not by Corbett or Khanna.

    I think Khanna is out of the deal for the 15CD in 2014.

    And Corbett is looking kind of like a tired professional who just wants to move up to further her career. I’ve heard nothing fresh or inspiring coming from her.
    About the only complaint they have against Swalwell is that he ain’t Pete Stark, whom they all bowed down before so he could be re-anointed.

    Won’t be able to call him a rookie in 2014.
    If Corbett had a lot of charisma that would be one thing, but the only thing she has to sell is her time in the legislature. Hardly where the Alameda Co. residents look when thinking about excellence in government.

  • Jim

    To #1 – A child being bullied should tell an adult if it doesn’t work to tell the people picking on them to stop. The fact you think telling an adult means parents are “fighting the child’s battle for them” is sad and encourages bullying. This attitude you have is part of the problem.

  • Congressman Honda acts significantly older than 71 years. He almost never has a public meeting in the District and appears to want to avoid the voters in a face to face meeting. Several times when the President had talks to Congress the cameras have found Congressman Honda and he seemed to be out of focus and perhaps sleeping. Is this Congressman not well??

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Now that the Big Game is over, let’s repatriate Nancy Pelosi to Baltimore. Maybe she can exercise her karma on the Ravens.