On the heels of his well-bankrolled challenger’s campaign kickoff rally this weekend, Rep. Mike Honda announced Monday that he raised about $214,000 in this year’s first quarter toward his 2014 re-election campaign.
Honda, D-San Jose, faces a challenge in the 17th Congressional District from fellow Democrat Ro Khanna of Fremont, a former Obama administration Commerce Department official. Khanna raised a record-setting $1.2 million in the final quarter of 2011, when his plan was to succeed (but not challenge) Pete Stark in the 15th Congressional District; Stark was unseated by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell last year, and now Khanna will try to do the same to Honda.
But Honda, who since the start of this year has been rolling out high-profile endorsements including those of President Barack Obama and almost all California House Democrats, seems ready to put up a hell of a fight.
His campaign said Monday that he raised $213,944.74 from 345 donors from Jan. 1 through March 31, and has hired a formidable fundraising team to hit wallets near and far. Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, founder and principal of Arum Group LLC, will direct national fundraising efforts and Shari Rubin-Rick and Brittany Kneebone Feitelberg of Integrated Fundraising Strategies will guide the California money operation.
“In the last 90 days, we’ve added finance talent to build upon our on-going fundraising operation and we are moving ahead aggressively with face-to-face and online fundraising,” campaign spokesman Dan Cohen said in a news release. “In the second quarter, the Congressman will travel for fundraising events to Chicago, New Jersey, New York, and Los Angeles, and Mayor Ed Lee will co-host an event in San Francisco.”
Among the contributions Honda’s campaign touted are those from actor George Takei of “Star Trek” fame; Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer; and officers or employees from tech companies including McAfee, Phillips Electronics, Qualcomm, and Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), a global trade association.
“This is a Congressman who works both for the people and the drivers of innovation in Silicon Valley,” Mielke said in the release. “He is known as a trusted voice to grow jobs, help families, and improve education. People at every level want to be a part of keeping Rep. Honda in Congress,” she added.
Honda started the year with about $78,000 cash on hand, so even the money he raised in the first quarter doesn’t put him anywhere close to Khanna’s $1 million bankroll. Khanna raised only $18,000 in the first quarter, but he was trying to remain somewhat under the radar (he didn’t formally announce his candidacy until April 2) and promises a much more aggressive second quarter.
Meanwhile, Khanna – who formally announced his campaign earlier this month – held the first public event of campaign Sunday at DeAnza College in Cupertino. The “Rally with Ro” featured a performance by a local dance troupe, as well as speeches from supporters including two members of Khanna’s campaign committee: longtime local labor leader Sergio Santos and Lindsay Lamont, a student who took one of Khanna’s classes at Stanford. And, of course, the candidate himself gave a broad outline of why he’s in this race.
“In Silicon Valley, we reject labels and respect out-of-the-box thinking,” Khanna said. “We judge a person based on the merit of their ideas, not their party or their seniority or their title. Isn’t it time we had a Congress capable of doing the same?”
Khanna ran through a series of policy points geared toward Silicon Valley’s needs, such as “tax rules that incentivize companies to invest here at home instead of parking money overseas;” a need to “simplify government regulations at all levels so that businesses choose to create jobs in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara instead of Ireland or Singapore;” tech-oriented education system that teaches code to elementary school students; and immigration reform that welcomes and retains job creators.
“The world looks to Silicon Valley as a place for innovation, unencumbered by past struggles along national, racial, or religious lines. It represents America at its best; the 21st century at its best,” he said. “If you believe, then, as I do, that Silicon Valley not only can, but must shape American politics; that from here we can build a new politics for a new century, grounded in the founding ideals that define our nation; then I ask you to join this campaign.”
Honda’s campaign on Friday had offered up a roster of Silicon Valley politicians (including San Jose Councilman Ash Kalra, Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews); business and labor leaders (including South Bay Labor Council CEO Ben Field, Root Square CEO Shelly Kapoor Collins and Yonja Media Group CEO Dilawar Syed); and others who’ll sing Honda’s praises as a champion for the region. Honda himself was at the California Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento this weekend, doubtlessly shoring up what few party-politico endorsements he doesn’t already have.
Read Khanna’s complete remarks as prepared, after the jump…
Thanks to all of you for taking time out on a Sunday afternoon to be here at DeAnza Community College with me.
As I look out over this crowd, I see what makes Silicon Valley so special.
I see students, entrepreneurs, technology leaders, and working families.
I see faces of different races and many different ethnic groups from across the globe.
This is the promise of America.
But many of us are here today because we share a deep concern about
the state of our democracy.
Our nation’s founders warned about the problem of factions and parties.
They warned that that our country could not prosper if politics were dominated by special interests.
Unfortunately, we have not heeded their warnings.
What we have today in Washington is polarized politics, where special interests dominate and the voice of citizens goes unheard.
How else can we explain that, four months to the day after the tragedy at Newtown, Congress is struggling to pass even the most minimal reform of our gun laws?
This paralysis extends to our nation’s economy. Congress is unable to pass an agenda to help create jobs, or to provide the right type of education for the 21st Century.
Some people are so frustrated with Congress that they just tune out whenever the word Washington is mentioned. But apathy is not an option.
The failure of our politics has real consequences for the strength and competitiveness of our nation. It has put the American Dream at risk for millions of middle class families – and all those who aspire to the middle-class.
Today, for the first time in our history, there is a question of whether my generation will do as well as the previous one.
At stake are the sacrifices that so many families, including mine, made to pursue the dream of a better life.
My grandfather spent four years in jail in Gandhi’s movement for Indian independence, because he wanted something better than subjugation for his children.
That movement inspired Martin Luther King and the U.S. civil rights movement, and the civil rights movement paved the way for the Immigration Reform Act of 1965 — so my parents and other Asians could come to this country for a better life.
Think about how hard it must be to leave your family – to leave everything you’ve ever known — and move to a new country.
My parents took that leap of faith. For them, happiness would be measured not by the fulfillment of their own desires, but by what their children might accomplish in a land without limits.
The question before us today is whether America will remain that land of opportunity. Is it still possible for the daughters and sons of middle class families — who go to public school and take out loans for higher education — to have big dreams and achieve big things?
I’m running for Congress to make sure that it is.
I’m running because we need a better politics, more worthy of our founding ideals; more worthy of those who sacrificed, like my parents.
Now, I may be idealistic, but I’m not naive.
We have profound differences in this country on many social and moral issues.
I will never compromise on questions of basic rights and fairness, such as a woman’s right to choose, or a person’s right to marry who they love, or civil liberties for people of all faiths.
Those rights are inviolable, and must be protected.
But even though this nation may be divided on some big, moral questions, I believe we can find common ground on improving economic opportunity for millions of middle-class families willing to work hard and play by the rules.
My message when I get to Congress will be simple:
Those of us who care about American greatness, who believe in American exceptionalism, must put aside our differences and work together when it comes to strengthening our economy and creating good paying jobs.
We must work together to make sure that the middle-class can succeed in this country as the world becomes increasingly competitive.
We must work together to make sure that every qualified person, regardless of income, has access to a higher education, and that the seniors who built this country can still retire with the security and dignity they’ve earned.
In these pursuits, Washington can learn from Silicon Valley – one of the nation’s most powerful engines of economic growth.
In Silicon Valley, we reject labels and respect out-of-the-box thinking. We judge a person based on the merit of their ideas, not their party or their seniority or their title. Isn’t it time we had a Congress capable of doing the same?
A Congress that realizes that business and labor aren’t enemies, but potential partners in creating jobs.
A Congress that recognizes that not every government program is worth preserving – but only those that are measurably achieving their goals.
A Congress that is beholden neither to the extreme ideology of the right nor of the left but open to pragmatic solutions that actually help the middle-class.
A Congress that doesn’t just pay lip-service to saving manufacturing jobs, but actually knows what types of manufacturing jobs are sustainable in the United States — and how we can obtain them.
In short, we need more independent thinking in Congress – and fewer Members who simply march with their party in lock-step and repeat the talking points prepared for them.
We need Members of Congress willing to take on the special interests that use their PACs to stand in the way of change and good policies.
Let me be specific about some of these policies based on what I’ve been hearing from many in our community.
We need tax rules that incentivize companies to invest here at home instead of parking money overseas and reform of a tax regime written for a 1960’s economy.
And we need companies benefitting from such reforms to expand their payrolls and help with worker training –because the goal of any incentives has to be more jobs for the middle class.
We need to simplify government regulations at all levels so that businesses choose to create jobs in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara instead of Ireland or Singapore.
Most important, we need to improve our nation’s educational system — because today’s global economy is based not on where you live, but on what you know.
We as a nation are falling behind in education — and we simply cannot afford it. Even here in Silicon Valley, where we are technology-rich, too many of our schools are technology-poor.
We can start by making sure that every elementary student in this
District has the opportunity to learn code.
Think about how many millionaires this Valley has produced because they knew how to code, and how many good-paying jobs exist for those with programming skills.
In fact, if there is one website far more important than www.rokhanna.com, it’s www.code.org.
We must also make sure that every student in this district, and across the entire nation, has access to some form of higher education — whether it’s a university, a vocational school, or a community college like De Anza.
More than any time in history, knowledge is the key to a good-paying job.
Everything I am today I owe to a good education. It is the way up in the world for middle-class families and their children.
As a teacher at Santa Clara and Stanford, higher education is my passion.
As a Member of Congress, I’ll ask educational institutions that receive federal dollars to partner with the private sector to teach real world, employable skills.
And I’ll ask them to help working families struggling with rising tuition by making certain courses and credits available online.
Our country needs brainpower — from wherever we can find it.
Our local economy thrives today because we’ve welcomed immigrant technology leaders and entrepreneurs.
If someone is a job creator, then we should make it easy for them to come to these shores — and stay here.
And as it pertains to immigrants already here who are getting a good education or doing meaningful work, we should stop wasting energy trying to kick them out.
That is just common sense. And it is why we need immigration reform.
Silicon Valley can shape not just our nation, but our world.
The twentieth century was one of the most brutal in human history. Think about it. We had two World Wars, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War.
In just the past ten years, thousands of Americans have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan – many giving their lives or limbs.
There has to be a better way forward. Silicon Valley offers us hope.
In this district – in this campaign – you will find people from every part of the globe.
When we send out a tweet, or post on Facebook or Linkedin, we don’t
think about borders. We’re not limited by ideology. We do not speak the stale language of balance-of-power politics. We simply have friends or colleagues in China, in India, in Pakistan, in the Middle East.
That is why the world looks to Silicon Valley as a place for innovation, unencumbered by past struggles along national, racial, or religious lines. It represents America at its best; the 21st century at its best.
If you believe, then, as I do, that Silicon Valley not only can, but must shape American politics; that from here we can build a new politics for a new century, grounded in the founding ideals that define our nation; then I ask you to join this campaign.
Together, we can restore civility and reason to our politics, and make sure that every American has the chance to rise just as high as their hard work will take them.
Together, we can help America remain the beacon of innovation, lighting our way to a more open, peaceful and democratic world.
I am excited to begin this journey with all of you and filled with hope about America’s future. Thank you.