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More super-early endorsements for Mike Honda

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, continues firing shots across the bow of potential Democratic challenger Ro Khanna, this time with endorsements from former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and 20 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

As long-circulating rumors of Khanna’s 2014 candidacy in the 17th District began to gather steam and attention a few weeks ago, Honda had trotted out endorsements from President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. The newest endorsements came Thursday.

“As a past Chair of the Democratic National Committee, I am proud to have served with Congressman Mike Honda in the leadership of our national party, and I proudly endorse him for re-election to Congress in 2014,” Dean said in a statement issued via Honda’s campaign.

“Progressive Democrats have relied on Mike for many years as he has consistently championed the values we share, shaping our debate nationally and locally on issues such as education, immigration, the economy, the budget, the environment and the right of all families to pursue the American dream,” Dean said. “Mike has also served as an effective leader of our diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as a critical ally of the LGBT community. The people of the 17th Congressional District can continue to count on Mike to stand toe to toe with those who seek to roll back the progress that our grassroots efforts have produced.”

CAPAC chairwoman Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, issued a statement on behalf of herself and 19 other members of the caucus, of which Honda is chairman emeritus. This endorsement might be particularly notable given the 17th District is the first majority-Asian American/Pacific Islander district in the continental United States, and the South Asian community has been a huge component of Khanna’s formidable fundraising.

“Since day one, Mike has been a fearless advocate for the AAPI community on a host of critical issues – from fighting the spread of viral hepatitis, to voting rights, to creating jobs and to reuniting our families and ensuring fairness in immigration reform,” the caucus’ statement said. “Now that he currently represents the first majority Asian American Congressional district in the U.S., Mike’s leadership is needed more than ever before.”

Among the caucus members signing the statement were Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.

Khanna, a former Obama Administration official, sat out last year’s election after raising a record-breaking $1.2 million but choosing not to challenge veteran-but-vulnerable Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont. That might’ve been a crucial career miscalculation, as Democrat Eric Swalwell took down Stark in November, and now there’s talk that Khanna might see Honda as a similar target in 2014.

Khanna’s campaign papers never specified the district or year in which he would run, and he has said he’s still mulling where and when to make his bid. “My decision on whether to run will not be based on Washington politics, it will be based on conversations in the local community,” he said early this month. “I want to determine where I can best help in aiding the community and improving our economy.”

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.