CA17: Don’t call Ro Khanna a millionaire

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna took umbrage at being called a millionaire by one of Rep. Mike Honda’s supporters and fellow House members.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, on Tuesday invited contributors to a March 17 fundraiser in Monterey Park on Honda’s behalf. The email didn’t specifically name Khanna, but it seems clear Chu wasn’t talking about Dr. Vanilla Singh, a Fremont Republican who entered the race last month, when writing that “Rep. Honda is facing a tough race against a well-funded millionaire.”

Well-funded, yes: Khanna, an attorney and former Obama administration official from Fremont, had about $1.97 million banked for his 17th Congressional District campaign as of the end of 2013, while the incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, had about $623,000.

But millionaire, no. Khanna’s campaign issued a “Truth Squad” communiqué Tuesday noting Khanna “is the son of immigrants, and the product of a middle-class upbringing. Today, Ro is still paying off his own student loans. Ro is not a millionaire.”

“This fundraising email from Congressman Honda’s supporter is just the latest example of a baseless attack waged against Ro,” Khanna’s campaign added. “Candidates and their allies should stick to the facts instead of engaging in ad hominem personal attacks. Congressman Honda should call on Congresswoman Chu to correct her misstatement and set the record straight.”

Chu’s response said nothing of Khanna’s own wealth.

“Ro Khanna’s campaign is well-funded and fueled by maxed-out contributions from far-right conservative millionaires like Peter Thiel and Marc Leder who are actively working against our efforts to move the country forward,” she said via e-mail Tuesday night. “Mike Honda has been a tireless champion for the Asian-American community and his district, as Khanna has said so himself. I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure Mike is re-elected.”

Chu succeeded Honda as chair of the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus in 2011.

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.

  • Crazy_Like_A_Fox

    Can I just say, I hate it when politicians don’t apologize for an error, any error, that’s made by the candidate, the campaign or by one of their high ranking supporters. This was such a simple one. Chu said something inaccurate. No big deal. She should have said, “my bad” or Honda camp should just say that it should have said “funded by millionaires” rather than calling Ro one. Why do campaigns always get defensive and then go on the attack. They’re the ones who screwed up!!! They’re the ones that lied. If anything, Ro’s campaign responded pretty good here and, in my opinion, looks even better when compared to the stupid and off message response that Chu’s office gave (I’m sure with 100% coordination with Honda’s office). Ugh…this stuff just drives me crazy.

  • Ayushi

    The fact that Ro Khanna is backed by Marc Leder and Peter Thiel is a baseless argument that Honda’s campaign repeatedly brings up. For example, Leder has contributed to other Democrats including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Cory Booker, Joe Kennedy, and Amy Klobuchar. Khanna’s willingness to take these donations show that he is willing to work across the aisle- a bipartisan work ethic that Congress, and Congressman Honda, definitely needs more of in order to function.

    Honda has not criticized his other Democrat colleagues (including the chairwoman of the DNC) for taking donations from conservatives- so why should Ro Khanna be grouped any differently? Pretty disappointed that Congressman Honda and his campaign would take an inconsistent and unethical view in crafting their argument against someone trying to run a clean campaign.

  • Marga

    I think Honda’s campaign is making a mistake. I understand that the purpose of the fundraising e-mails portraying Khanna as a Republican in disguise, is to scare the progressive base into contributing more and more money to the Honda campaign. And they may be effective at that.

    But they also give Khanna a pretty big weapon. Conventional wisdom says that a challenger cannot win if he doesn’t attack the incumbent, but attacking Mike Honda is very tricky. He’s an older affable gentleman, with a compelling personal story which starts in an internment camp, and who is easy to like and respect. A negative attack can go awry quickly.

    BUT, here we have Honda, the incumbent, attacking the challenger. Some of the attacks – like this one – are clearly unfair. If Honda is playing dirty, who can complain if Khanna hits back?

    And he has the money to do it. Whatever extra money Honda raises through e-mails like the one quoted, will end up being spent explaining how Khanna is wrong on his attacks to Honda.

    What a waste.

  • Richard Woulfe

    I’m anxious to see some debates between Honda and Khanna, the Honda campaign or some of his supporters – like Chu here -continue to put out inaccurate- attack-like e-mails or press releases – such as this latest broadside – which falsely claims Khanna is millionaire, but Honda is refusing to debate Khanna. Why is Honda ducking debates? One question I’d have – for Honda – if I was a reporter – pertains to his unbelievably weak legislative record. His claim that he’s been effective in DC is just hot air. I would describe his legislative record as total fluff, there is just nothing there to report on. Why doesn’t Honda have a long list of land-mark legislative bills – like George Miller or Henry Waxman? He’s been in Congress 14 years and he apparently hasn’t yet to pick up the basic skills of how-to-get stuff done in DC, it’s embarrassing. The 17th district is a district full of people with impressive skill sets, yet Honda – the local Congressman – appears to be an incredible bumbler, his legislative skills appear to be zip. I guess it’s understandable – in a way -for Honda to duck debates, if I had a record like Honda I’d be ducking debates too! But how long can he hide, let’s see some debates!

  • Elwood

    The first debate is scheduled for the corner of walk and don’t walk at 3 am 11/3 in San Ramon

    Be sure to invite your friends (Ro and your fellow staff members).

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Why don’t RoK’s HiTech buddies lend him a hand with those pesky student loans?

  • JohnW

    That would be something, considering that San Ramon is in Swalwell’s district, not Honda’s.

  • Elwood

    That’s why Honda’s staff scheduled the debate there.

  • JohnW

    Got it. Was a bit slow on that one.

  • Hisazo

    Really makes one wonder why Honda was stripped of his DNC Vice Chairmanship in favor of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.