Congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign is calling attention to incumbent Rep. Mike Honda’s increasing collection of contributions from people outside the 17th Congressional District and from political action committees.
Crunching numbers from reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last week, Khanna’s campaign noted in a news release Tuesday that Honda, D-San Jose, raised almost $79,000 from PACs in last year’s final quarter, bringing his total 2013 PAC haul to about $313,000 – about 28 percent of his total contributions in the 2014 cycle so far.
Also, more than half of Honda’s individual contributions in the last quarter – about $117,000 – came from outside California, bring his total percentage raised from outside the state in this sycle to 47 percent. About one-fourth of his individual contributions in the fourth quarter came from the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. area.
Khanna – a Democrat and former Obama administration official from Fremont – has refused to accept any PAC contributions and has received about 80 percent of his contributions from within California. Khanna raised about $425,000 in the last quarter of 2013, while Honda raised about $251,000; Khanna finished the year with $1.97 million cash on hand, while Honda had $623,000 in the bank.
“We believe these fundraising numbers tell an important story,” Leah Cowan, Khanna’s campaign manager, said in the news release. “One candidate is increasingly reliant on out-of-state and special interest contributions. The other will be answerable to the individuals he represents.”
A spokesman for Honda’s campaign declined to comment Tuesday.
But Kyle Kondik, an expert on congressional elections at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said seeing an incumbent raise more money from outside the district and from PACs than his challenger “strikes me as pretty common.”
“Members of the House can develop a national constituency based on their record in Congress, which a challenger lacks,” he said. “A lot of national contributors won’t want to rock the boat unless they really dislike the incumbent or believe he or she will lose. … Also, while the sources of contributions are definitely worth reporting, I don’t think that attacks by one candidate against the other for contributions are all that meaningful, unless the candidate got a contribution from a very shady/controversial source.”
One other thing I noticed in the FEC reports. If you really want to get down to the grassroots, consider that all contributions of less than $200 are added together and reported as a lump sum under the line item “unitemized contributions.” Khanna’s unitemized contributions for 2013 totaled $42,421 while Honda’s totaled $88,824 – so Honda raised twice as much in small contributions as Khanna did.