Rep. Mike Honda unveils 2014 campaign team

Rep. Mike Honda on Friday continued his mega-early campaign publicity blitz – clearly aimed at convincing an ambitious fellow Democrat from challenging him next year – by announcing his campaign staff.

Honda, D-San Jose, in recent weeks has rolled out endorsements from President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and many others in order to scare off, or at least undercut, a potential challenge from former Obama administration official Ro Khanna of Fremont. Honda issued a release Friday announcing his top-shelf campaign team.

honda.jpg“The people of the 17th District get my absolute best 24/7. Our community also deserves a campaign team that reflects my commitment to the families of Silicon Valley,” he said. “Together, we will listen and engage this community to create good jobs, improve our schools and grow Silicon Valley’s influence around the world.”

Honda has hired San Francisco-based Terris, Barnes and Walters for campaign management and media consulting. The firm in 2012 ran Rep. Mike Thompson’s re-election campaign, as well as state Sen. Jim Beall’s campaign in the South Bay and state Sen. Bill Monning’s campaign for his Central Coast seat. Honda team will be led by partner Barry Barnes.

For polling, Honda picked Washington, D.C.-based Lake Research Partners, which has run numbers for all four of Rep. Jerry McNerney’s campaigns as well as for Rep. Raul Ruiz’s victory over Mary Bono Mack last year. The firm also advises Pelosi; Honda’s team will be led by Berkeley-based partner David Mermin.

Oakland-based Full Court Press Communications will handle the Honda campaign’s communications and social media. The firm recently managed communications for Proposition 35, and designed social media campaigns for five local races around the state. The team will be led by founder Dan Cohen and Sarah Hersh, a former McNerney spokeswoman.

And former Davis City Councilman Lamar Heystek will serve as Honda’s field director, as he did last year.

Khanna, who served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Commerce Department from 2009 through 2011, sat out last year’s election after raising a record-breaking $1.2 million in the final quarter of 2011 but choosing not to challenge veteran-but-vulnerable Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont. 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.

  • Brandon Key

    Small typo, FYI: His name is Lamar Heystek

  • Josh Richman

    Corrected, with apologies to Mr. Heystek.

  • blue collar voter

    Honda has gotten pretty old. He’s no spring chicken anymore, not by a long shot. Voters just kicked out 81 year old Pete Stark out of Congress, due primarily to his advancing age. They probably would have done the same to Lynne Woolsley, who retired rather than run for another term.
    In addition to being in their 70’s or 80’s, Stark, Woolsley, and Honda are all hyper partisan ultra liberals, far more liberal than the average voter in California. Being an ultra liberal worked when you had those gerrymandered districts and closed primaries, but voters have switched to open primaries, the top two candidates that emerge from the primary – regardless of party, square off in the general. This means more moderate and conservative voters – some who are blue collar workers – can play a critical role in traditionally Democratic Congressional district elections, as we saw in the Stark campaign. Stark finished first in primary, but in the general he was beaten because of his extreme left wing politics (along with his age). If a candidate – like the elderly Honda – is a flaming ultra liberal – which Honda is, then he too – I think – would be vulnerable if a more moderate Democratic candidate was to run, such as this young hot shot Rho Khana. In a run-off election moderate to conservative voters would be the “kingpins”, they would be able to influence the election. In the closed primary system these voters were completely out of the picture in terms of playing any role in what kind of Democratic Congressman they were going to get. But in this new system moderates and conservatives have become empowered, and boy are they loving it (just ask Stark and Howard Berman). In view of this I think a moderate pro-business candidate, like Khanna, could give Honda a real run for his money, given Honda’s extremist views and this new open primary system.
    When voters got rid of gerrymandered district they did so – in part – to get rid of this situation where you had ultra liberal and ultra Conservative Representatives in Congress. This lead to intense hyper partisanship, voters want the parties to work together to solve festering problems, like high unemployment, immigration or budget deficits. In the future, I think, you are going to have more moderate candidates – from both parties, serve in Congress from California. This will be a good thing, this hyper partisanship fighting just leads to drift and stalemate.

  • GV Haste

    Is it just my take, or is Mike Honda freaking out and falling all over himself in a effort to appear solid and unbeatable.

    He is going so overboard, so early, that it almost makes him look weaker and vulnerable.

    Kind of waking up the thinking of those in the district that “Hey, perhaps we SHOULD have a real race and debate of the issues” rather than just rubber stamping the incumbent.

    What are the future needs of the district and is this incumbent, nearing the end of his career, still up to the changing and dynamic world that we must face?

    I don’t live inside the district, but after this early flurry, the race seems more probable than was the case at the end of last year.

    Two points in Honda’s favor.
    1. He’s no Pete Stark (snapping and befuddled)
    2. Khanna is no Bill Clinton (natural man of the people)

  • JohnW

    @ 3 GV Haste

    Is it just my take…?

    Actually yes. Pre-emptive moves by politicians who anticipate challenges is, from a political survival standpoint, just common sense.

    But you are right that Honda, whatever his shortcomings (age, too liberal or whatever) is no Pete Stark. And Khanna, however smart and in tune he may be with the San Hill Road crowd, is no Bill Clinton.

  • Independent Voter

    It’s interesting to me that Honda has rolled out a campaign team so early when his last FEC filing showed that he has less than $100K in cash on hand. How is he going to pay these folks so early? Unless he is fundraising like mad as well? I haven’t heard a peep on the fundraising front locally. Unless, he is raising money nationally? I guess we will see in early April.

    To GV Haste’s point, I do think Honda is freaking out a bit. Many folks that I have talked to in the district think all of these early moves actually show an incredible sign of weakness on his part, the exact opposite of what I’m sure he’s intended to do. It is kind of pathetic that a long serving incumbent seeked out Obama’s and Pelosi’s endorsements 20 months before the next election and without a formal challenger. It is unprecedented and screams desperation.

    My gut is that none of this is scaring Khanna one bit. Hopefully he decides to run. It’s good to keep the incumbents on their toes from time to time. The voters would benefit from a healthy and renewed debate on the issues. Gosh, do I love the open primary system! All 50 states should adopt similar laws.

    I got a kick out of the the statement that “Khanna is no Bill Clinton”. I mean who is??? There is no one like Bill Clinton! The fact that you placed them in the same sentence should be a compliment to Khanna. 🙂

  • Elwood

    ” There is no one like Bill Clinton!”

    Be thankful for small blessings.

  • RR senile columnist

    A word from RoK: Hi everybody! I am a self-made politician and a proven fundraiser. That alone qualifies me for high office but it would be really nice if lots of people asked me first.