Ro Khanna rolls out campaign committee roster

Ro Khanna, the former Obama administration official who last week launched his 2014 challenge to fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda, rolled out a campaign executive committee Tuesday full of labor, political and Silicon Valley talent.

The committee for Khanna’s 17th Congressional District campaign will be cochaired by campaign chairman Steve Spinner – a tech executive and investor who was a California finance chairman for Obama’s campaign and an Energy Department stimulus adviser – and general consultant Jeremy Bird, who was the Obama campaign’s national field director last year. The members are David Berger, Kamil Hasan, Amy Rao, Rusty Rueff, Jim Green, Sergio Santos, Eva Roa, Lindsay Lamont, Kavita Tankha and Ann Woo.

David Berger, 53, of Palo Alto, was a member of the Obama campaign’s national finance committee last year and is a partner at Silicon Valley’s largest law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati – where Khanna is of counsel. He also has taught law classes at Harvard, Stanford, UC-Berkeley and Duke.

Kamil Hasan of Saratoga, another former Obama finance committee member, is a partner at Granite Hill partners, founded HiTek Ventures in 1995 and has thirty years of operating and entrepreneurial experience in the software industry. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean appointed him as an at-large DNC member and a super-delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Amy Rao, 50, of Palo Alto, is CEO of Integrated Archive Systems, which she founded in 1994. Part of her long history in local and national Democratic politics was her role as one of the nation’s top fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Rusty Rueff, 50, of Hillsborough, another former Obama finance committee member, also was the coordinating national co-chair of Technology for Obama. A former business executive, Rueff now invests in and advises start-ups and serves philanthropically. He was the CEO of SNOCAP, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Electronic Arts and Vice President of International Human Resources for PepsiCo. He now currently serves on the corporate boards of Glassdoor.com, Rethink Books, HireVue and runcoach.

Jim Green co-founded and is executive director of T4A.org, a nonprofit focused on increasing civic engagement and creating a thoughtful, substantive and sustained two-way dialogue between the public sector and the technology community. He was the Northern California finance director for Obama’s 2012 campaign, and staff director of Technology for Obama; earlier, he worked for the Democratic National Committee finance team where he was responsible for major donor fundraising in California. He also was finance director for Kamala Harris’ successful 2010 campaign for state attorney general.

Sergio Santos, 49, of Fremont, most recently was the community labor liaison for the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) Re-Employment Center in Fremont; earlier, he served for 20 years as president of United Auto Workers Local 2244.

Eva Roa, 22, of San Jose, is a recent San Jose State University graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in economics, who served as president of the local AIESEC committee, putting on leadership development conferences and sending San Jose State students abroad on international internships. Roa also co-founded a small web-app startup to help students on campus find free food events. She is now studying to be a web developer at the nine-week intensive programming boot camp at Coding Dojo.

Lindsay Lamont, a Stanford University senior and past president of the Stanford Young Democrats, took part last summer in Google’s Building Opportunities for Leadership & Development (BOLD) Diversity Internship Program. Earlier, she interned for ABC News and the Connecticut gubernatorial campaign of her father, Ned Lamont. She has also worked as a research assistant at the Yale New Haven Hospital.

Kavita Tankha, 45, of Los Altos Hills was a member of Obama’s National Finance Committee and Northern California Finance Committee for 2012, and was one of four leading Indian-American fundraisers for the president. The Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club recently honored her as its activist of the year. Earlier, Tankha worked as an attorney with various law firms around the world.

Ann Woo, 71, of Cupertino, is a dancer, playwright, producer and entrepreneur who has played a key role in introducing Chinese performing arts to the region in the past 35 years; her productions have been presented regularly in major theaters such as the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, Flint Center, California Theater and Palace of Fine Arts. Woo was executive director of the Chinese Folk Dance Association of San Francisco from 1979 to 1987, and she co-founded the Asian Heritage Council in the South Bay in 1984 and Chinese Performing Arts of America (CPAA) in 1991. Woo also worked as an electronic engineer for 30 years, receiving nine patents.

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.

  • GV Haste

    A impressive team, however I do see a little problem developing

    Palo Alto
    Palo Alto
    Los Altos Hills
    Stanford University

    One might think that the team is mostly made up of outside people bending down to provide guidance to the common folks in the district.

    Also, thus far, I don’t see a groud team of upstarts intent on overthrowing the existing order in the same way that Swalwell got younger people aroused and involved. David and Goliath.

    All that may come, but right now it doesn’t seem as though this is developing from the ground up.
    Swalwell had to do it more that way because he had no money compared to Ro.

    Long time to go. Ro has 12 months to get those needed elements in place. Theme should be based on who is the candidate most able to take the district into a prosperous future where technology is the driving economic engine.
    Young leader with vision vs nice older party loyalist.

    Energy versus tradition. Making younger people want to turn out. We know the older folks will vote.

    With the top two system, Ro can carve out the same split that Swalwell did in the November election.

  • Independent Voter

    Impressive team! The more I learn about Khanna, the more I like him! Been doing some research on both Honda and Khanna and there are actually stark differences between the two contrary to what some folks are saying. Here are a few examples.

    1) Honda wants to raise capital gains taxes to 35% and treat as ordinary income. Khanna wants to keep at 20%, and lower investments held for more than 3 years.

    2) Honda wants to impose a global corporate tax on companies with an overseas presence. Khanna actually believes that this is a horrible idea that will force companies to domicile overseas.

    3) Honda wants to end deferral and tax companies overseas at the full US corporate tax rate the day they make a dollar. Khanna believe that this will lead to US companies selling off their subsidiaries. Khanna is for repatriation, and allowing companies to bring back money at a lower rate.

    4) Honda, a long-time educator, has surprisingly not embraced the Khan Academy or other who are teaching kids coding. Khanna is a huge proponent of technology in the classroom that is collaborative with teachers.

    5) Honda is for raising the top income tax rates to 48%. Khanna believes the rich should pay their fair share, but support the President’s plan of top rates at 39%. Khanna is opposed to 48% because coupled with state and local taxes, would pretty much mean around a 70% tax rate.

    6) Honda proudly claims to be one of the 10 most liberal members of Congress on economics. Khanna is very socially liberal, however he is a pro-economic growth Democrat who believe we need to be pragmatic about economic competitiveness issues in the US.

    Not sure how others feel, but these six differences between the candidates alone makes the decision on who to support a no-brainer for me. It will be interesting to see Honda and Khanna debate head-to-head on these issues. Looking forward to that.

  • Shobana Ramamurthi

    I’m a long time Fremont resident and an activist. I can attest that Ro Khanna has inspired many fellow activists in the district and we are super energized to get behind this young, brilliant,thoughtful candidate. His top team may consist of folks from all over the place but that only goes to show that he will attract talent regardless of where they are from. He has already demonstrated that his campaign will be more of a grassroots movement. He is engaging the constituents and having dialogues with them in small living rooms, backyards and around the kitchen tables. He wants to address our needs and move Silicon Valley forward. Looking forward to this exciting race!!!

  • Elwood

    “an Energy Department stimulus adviser”

    Well, that turned out really well!

  • GV Haste

    Steve Spinner … Is that really the best name to have for your “campaign chairman”?

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Frankly, I don’t rate the libs’ chances of taking control of the House very high. Ro’s ideas on the economy and schools won’t mean much, if anything, in the minority.

  • Bluecollar voter.

    I think a pro-business and-pro-labor centrist Democrat – like Ro Khanna – has a solid chance to beat Mike Honda in a primary. Honda is probably too liberal now for this district – his voting record is roughly the same as Dennis Kucinich or Pete Stark – both of whom were just ousted from Congress due to their wacky
    liberal extremism. In the old days – when districts were gerrymandered and you had the closed primary – a liberal bomb thrower like Honda could get re-elected easily, but now Honda will have to woo Republicans and independents to win this seat. Honda’s strong support for hiking taxes – which were just hiked pretty substantially – will not go over well with moderates or conservatives.
    I think voters are looking for candidates now that are problem solvers – not ideological extremists – candidates that can bring labor and business together for the common goal of putting people back to work. Stark, Kucinich, and Honda – these types of left wing extremists will continue to get ousted from Congress, and you will see right wingers get kicked out too in coming years. Ideological extremism leads to partisan warfare, drift and stalemate. We need to stop all this partisan warfare in DC and focus on solving problems.

  • Elwood

    We can now look forward to the battle of the cleverly named paid shills in the Ro/Honda contest.

  • RR senile columnist

    Elwood, Ro just loves everybody. He is saintly as well as highly intelligent.

  • JohnW

    The current issue of Businessweek (April 8-14) has a 4-page feature story on RoK’s challenge to Honda. With that kind of national attention, you would think he was aiming for something higher than a House seat.

  • GV Haste

    What a idiot comment by Cong. Jared Huffman


    He only got a chance when 75 year old Woolsey decided to not run. (perhaps because she was going to be opposed) Hypocrite

  • GV Haste

    Ooops… Don’t know what made that happen