CA17: Candidate forum scheduled for May 3

Rep. Mike Honda will face off against his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, and perhaps three Republican candidates at a forum in early May.

Gloria Chun Hoo, president of the League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara, confirmed Tuesday night that the 17th Congressional District forum will be held from 7* to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 3 at Fremont City Hall. Chun’s league is partnering with two others – Fremont, Newark and Union City, and Cupertino-Sunnyvale – to sponsor the event.

Honda’s and Khanna’s campaign staff confirmed Tuesday night that those candidates will attend. Three Republicans in the race – Dr. Vanila Singh of Fremont, Vinesh Singh Rathore of San Jose and Joel Vanlandingham of San Jose – are invited as well, but could not immediately be reached Tuesday.

Sources said the event will follow a typical league format in which the candidates make brief opening and closing statements and take questions from the audience via a moderator, but do not directly address or attack each other.

Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont, challenged Honda in early January to commit to a series of debates; Honda’s campaign responded it was too early to commit. All three Republicans have entered the race since then.

Honda campaign manager Doug Greven said Tuesday that he and his staff had begun talks with Hoo and with the Mercury News as early as December, but felt it was premature to set a date and book a venue until the field of candidates was finalized at the close of the filing period on March 7.

UPDATE @ 9:18 P.M.: I just spoke with Marilyn Singer from the Fremont league, who said it’s possible the forum will start slightly earlier – perhaps 6:45 p.m. – depending on the number of candidates who commit to participate; they’ll firm that up as the date grows closer. Also, there will be no opening statements from the candidates – they’ll go right to the questions, and then have a chance to deliver brief closing statements.

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.

  • FremontCA17

    “What am I missing here? Is this a debate or a forum? I’m confused. I thought the whole point of all the media around this was to get actual debates with moderators, press, etc…to have it be Khanna v Honda on issues going back and forth….I know it might be wishful thinking, but I was kinda hoping that it would be a local version of the Obama-Romney debates…that would be so much fun. Can someone explain to me what a forum is? Seems pretty weak….”

  • It’s definitely not the mano-a-mano that Khanna wanted. But it definitely is the way the League of Women Voters usually runs its events, and any candidate working with them to arrange an event should know that.

  • FremontCA17

    Thanks, Josh, I appreciate the clarification. I didn’t know that this is what LWV does, but it’s still far less than what most people want. I personally want to see a real debate, the one where each candidate gets a chance to put across his/her points and policies and the have a debate around it. I hope that other organizations can get Honda to do it. I’d really like to see one. We haven’t had a race that mattered like this in over 10 years!

  • Marga

    I think the chances of Honda agreeing to debate Khanna are nil to none.

    Other than try to find him and ask him questions yourself, I think the voter’s best bet as to evaluate how/what Honda thinks is waiting for the interviews from the editorial boards of the Mercury News and the Chronicle. Of course, whatever information comes out will be filtered through the biases of the papers.

  • Last cycle, we made and posted videos of our editorial board meetings with the candidates. Hopefully we’ll be doing that again this year, so that you can judge their positions without suffering anyone’s “biases.”

  • Marga

    That’s a great! I think that will give voters the best view as to who the candidates are. I hope you will ask questions about surveillance/civil liberties, in particular in CD15 where the candidates have been much more circumspect about them.

    And I didn’t mean to insult you or other members of editorial boards, Josh, but we all have biases.

  • To be clear: I’m not a member of our editorial board. Though I often sit in on candidate meetings – because they’re on-the-record, and sometimes news-making – I am not involved in our endorsement and editorial-writing process in any way.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    I’m biased against most elderly White pols. Honda is ok; Stark wasn’t.

  • JohnW

    One-on-one might be what people want but would be hard to justify before the other candidates are weeded out. Obviously, the multi-candidate forum makes RoK smaller and is to Honda’s advantage.