CA17: GOP candidate claims $100,000 haul

A Republican challenger to Rep. Mike Honda says she raised $100,000 in her campaign’s first five days – but two parts of that statement bear further explanation.

Dr. Vanila Singh, 43, of Fremont, filed her initial candidacy papers just last week.

Dr. Vanila Singh“People are tired of career politicians who are only concerned about their careers and not the jobs of the American people,” she said in a news release issued Tuesday. “My message is that we need to solve problems and find solutions. When someone is on an operating table you come to quick solutions in the interest of the patient. In government, that solution is often set aside for petty politics.”

Asked for more details, Singh campaign consultant Jason Klindt acknowledged later Tuesday that this initial $100,000 haul includes $25,000 from the candidate herself. He said he couldn’t provide more information about how many donors gave the other $75,000, or how much of that money came from within the 17th Congressional District; the campaign will have to disclose that later to the Federal Election Commission.

Also, a 2012 voter registration database showed Singh was registered without any party affiliation, not as a Republican. Klindt said Tuesday that Singh “updated her registration as she filed for Congress.”

Singh – now the third Asian-American candidate in the continental United States’ first majority-Asian-American district – might have to fight for notice in a race that’s already drawing national attention as former Obama administration official Ro Khanna, a Democrat, takes on Honda, D-San Jose.

With Honda being one of the House’s most liberal members and Khanna slightly less so, Singh likely would siphon more nonpartisan and Republican votes – some of the anybody-but-Honda bloc – from Khanna’s campaign than from Honda’s.

But both Democrats are far better funded (though Khanna has been outraising Honda significantly), and the district’s voter-registration breakdown is 44.4 percent Democrat, 31.5 percent nonpartisan and 18.9 percent Republican. So, at first glance, it seems unlikely she could surpass either Democrat to finish first or second in June’s “top-two” primary and proceed to November’s general election.

Singh is a clinical associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Stanford University, where she treats patients with complex pain management issues; she’s also a married mother of two. She graduated from George Washington University Medical School in 1997 and received further training at Yale, Cornell and Columbia; she taught as a clinical assistant professor at UCLA before coming to Stanford. Though born in India, she’s a graduate of Fremont public schools and of UC-Berkeley.

“I have a strong desire to serve because I have lived the American Dream,” she said. “We need to get our country back on track. We have to create a climate where small businesses can create jobs and reduce the size and scope of government.”

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.

  • Marga

    It’s difficult to not think of Singh as something other than a “spoiler” candidate. After all, if she was serious about winning, she wouldn’t run as a Republican. The only reason to do so is to make sure to take the Republican vote away from Khanna.

    She is also likely to be able to take a chunk of the Indian-American vote. Apparently, her family is well entrenched and very influential in the Indian-American community in Fremont.

    Together, that may be enough to make her win in June. Or at least, to damage Khanna’s base gravely enough to have him be off kilter.

    Still, this seems like an awfully risky strategy to come from the Honda camp. I wonder if some of his Indian-American supporters went “rogue” and talked Vanila into running.

  • Willis James

    “Win in June” What?

    If she only had $500,000 instead of $100,000.

    With $500,000 all spent in June she has a 12% chance of being one of the top two.

    Then with another million she could increase her chances of winning in November from 0.7% to 1.2%.

  • Elwood

    Aha! It’s the old siphon off the Indian vote trick!

  • Marga

    You can make up all the numbers you want, but let’s look a the numbers we do have.

    The last poll is from August, but still, the only poll number we have. They give Honda 49% of the vote. Leaving any other candidates that may enter the race aside for a minute, this means that whoever of Khanna and Singh can get 25.5% +1 of the vote, will make it to November.

    And a single Republican candidate has a very good chance of getting that much just by virtue of being Republican. As the article says, 18.9% of voters in the district are registered Republican. But more vote that way. In the June ’12 elections, Li, the Republican candidate got 27.6% of the vote while an independent candidate got 5.7%.

    Li got these votes with little campaigning, her total take by June ’12 was of $18K. And the presence of an independent in the race, suggests that most of her vote was pro-Republican rather than just anti-Honda.

    To me, this means that it won’t take that much for Singh to make it past June – /as long as she is the only Republican candidate in the race/. If Khanna’s supporters are smart, she won’t be.

  • Willis James

    Republicans aren’t ignorant; they know how the top two game is played now.
    I think a fair percentage of them won’t be throwing their vote away on Vanilla Singh, knowing she’d have next to zero chance in November.

    BTW, that poll was very early and very weak.
    How many people would have chosen Swalwell in a poll a taken in 2011? Stark would have probably gotten 49% or more.

  • Marga

    If that’s the case, you should be able to find an example from the 2012 elections in which Republicans voted for a Democrat rather than a Republican to prevent the incumbent Democrat for winning. There may be such example, but I haven’t heard of it. The Swalwell-Stark race, there was no Republican candidate.

    The August poll was done in August, about 5 months into the campaign. A previous poll, in April, had given Honda 57%. Note that I’m only looking at Honda’s numbers. While I don’t think any poll numbers were released for the 2012 CD 15 race, I did hear from potential candidates that the numbers made it seem like defeating Stark was more than possible. Which is why he surprised people by choosing to run.

  • JohnW

    Republicans have a bunch of docs in both the House and Senate, many of them ob-gyn types. Not saying if that’s good or bad. Just interesting.

  • Crazy_Like_A_Fox

    Obviously a plant by Honda’s campaign. Someone is getting desperate. If she was serious at all about winning, she would’ve been better of remaining registered as decline-to-state. My guess is that 1 or 2 more Republicans jump in the race. Interesting to say the least.

  • Willis James

    Marga, the primary.
    The primary is where the top two are chosen.

    With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Stark won 42.9 percent of the vote. Swalwell finished with 35.3 percent and Chris Pareja received 21.5 percent of the vote.

    Even Republicans know that is they somehow allow Singh to sneak through into the top two, that she will have a less than 1% chance of being elected in November. They don’t want to waste their vote in June.

  • Marga

    That may be the case – or not. So far all you have is speculation. Can you find any examples of a 2012 primary where Republicans voted for a Democrat rather than the Republican candidate to prevent the more liberal Democrat from winning in November? The CD15 example doesn’t work because 1) 21.5% of the voters did vote for Pareja and 2) Pareja was running as an independent, not a Republican.

    But there are 53 Congresional districts in CA, surely if you are right, you can find an example that confirms your thesis.

  • Willis James

    Your thinking assumes that Republicans in CA17 are mindless idiots who simply cannot understand the new top two system.
    Knowing they’ll lose in November they choose Singh simply because she is a Republican even though between Ro and Honda, they’d rather have Ro.

    “Enough” Republicans in CD15 were smart enough to figure out the system such that Swalwell made it into the top two despite a fair amount of knee-jerk voting from members of both parties.

  • Elwood

    Top two Honda and Singh.

    You go, Ro!

  • Marga

    My thinking is that Republicans will vote for Republican candidates. You can call that stupid, you can call that principled, whatever you want. But it’s based on what has happened in June 2012 races, where I haven’t seen evidence of .Republicans abandoning Republican candidates in favor of the “less liberal” Democrats.

    .I may be wrong, however, which is why I’ve now twice asked you to give me an example where such voter migration has happened. It didn’t happen in CD15, because nobody run as a .Republican in CD15. So find an actual example.

  • Willis James

    Marga, Chris Pareja in 2012 works fine as a Republican example.

    Here is what Josh said about him in 2012

    Republican Independent Chris Pareja of Hayward – who ran against Stark in 2010 as a write-in, backed by some Tea Party elements who felt Republican nominee Forest Baker wasn’t conservative enough –”

    I’m not going to hunt around for other examples. Every Republican knew who and what he was.


  • Marga

    Is your premise that *every single .Republican* in CD15 reads Josh’s column? Seriously? .Not only read it, but memorize it so that two years in the future, they will remember that Chris Pareja, running as an independent, once ran as a Republican.

    .I’m sure Josh would like that, but I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you that .his reach is less than universal.

    If you ever worked in a campaign, surely you know that most voters have very little information about candidates – in particular about candidates that have not run extensive and expensive campaigns. But don’t take my word for it. Call 10 random Republicans in District 10 and ask them whether they know who Chris Pareja is and what party he is affiliated with. See what they say.

  • Willis James

    BTW that article was published, January 31st, 2012. four months prior to the primary.

    The issue of Pareja being the conservative, essentially Republican candidate, was fairly well known in the Pleasanton, Livermore area prior to June of 2012.

    Again, I don’t think Republicans in CA17 are en-mass going to be so easily duped into voting Singh into the primary top-two.

    We don’t need them all to understand that such a vote will put Honda right back into office. You only need a portion to wise up to the diversion.
    Surely no one thinks Singh could possibly win in November.

    I suppose if Honda totally blundered it might be possible, but he’d have to be far worse than Stark.
    Perhaps if he shoplifted some items from Nordstrom.

    Tom Campbell might have a small chance if he even still lived in the district.
    Right now, Honda is #1 in the primary, with Khanna a firm #2.

  • Willis James
  • Marga

    You expect voters to remember what Josh wrote in a column months before, and yet you cannot even remember that he wrote – in the same column under which you’ve been commenting that: “Klindt said Tuesday that Singh “updated her registration as she filed for Congress.”” 🙂

  • Willis James

    Marga, I read Josh’s words very carefully.

    I was merely commenting that she is hardly a long term loyal party member.
    Rather she appears more the novice who cared little about politics until this week.

    Like Meg Whitman and Carley Fiorina who had shameful voting records prior to running.

    As such, all the more reason why it will be Khanna and Honda in November.

    We all look forward to the debates which both of them will be forced to engage in.
    Minimum of 2 in the primary and 2 in the Fall.

  • Marga

    I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions based on a snippet of information. Apparently she is a very well connected and very ambitious, as well as intelligent woman, with the potential for building a strong campaign.
    That, of course, goes against my “spoiler” theory. Frankly, I don’t think anyone understands what her role in this race is.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    If you want a candidate who will do something about persistent neck pain, here’s your choice!

  • AmusedToDeath14