CA17: Honda hits Khanna again on work record

Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign has sent out another mailing claiming Democratic challenger Ro Khanna “resigned from Commerce Department after missing performance marks,” but when pressed, acknowledges there was no relation between the two.

Khanna’s campaign also is reiterating that he left the Commerce Department with plaudits from his superiors, and Khanna is now airing a new online ad calling attention to Honda’s attacks.

Click to enlarge:
Honda mailer 1

Honda mailer 2

The Honda mailer says Khanna “worked as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, where his department failed to meet four out of six performance targets. He resigned after just two years to switch careers again.”

As I wrote a few weeks ago of a previous Honda mailer, this claim is based on a Government Accountability Office report from September 2011 which gauged the success of the department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service in supporting President Obama’s National Export Initiative, launched in 2010. “In fiscal year 2012, CS will implement revised performance measures that align more closely with the NEI,” a summary says. “Although CS did not meet four of its six performance targets in 2010, it achieved increases in most of its measures as it shifted to address NEI priorities.”

Khanna was a Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary from August 2009 to August 2011; his name does not appear anywhere in the 71-page GAO report. And Khanna’s campaign provided an August 2011 letter from Francisco Sanchez, then the Commerce Department’s Under Secretary for International Trade, commending Khanna for “leading an important agency during challenging economic times” and rendering valuable service to the nation.

Asked whether Honda is implying the GAO report led to Khanna’s departure from Commerce, spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said he stood by the quote he gave me last time. “We’re saying that Khanna has a record of trying to build his resume, rather than actual public service,” Kembaiyan had said. “This explains why he was so absent on the Parks & Rec commission, and why he left Commerce after just two years. He started raising money to run for Congress just one month after he left Commerce.”

In other words, whatever the mailer’s implication, they are NOT claiming Khanna left Commerce because of the GAO report.

Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Honda “is continuing to mischaracterize Ro’s record.”

“But the facts are clear: Ro oversaw 108 domestic offices and implemented the President’s National Export Initiative, fought for labor to have a seat at the table, led clean technology trade missions abroad, and delivered a critical manufacturing grant to Fremont, amongst many other accomplishments. Frankly, the Honda campaign’s attempt to rewrite the truth is bizarre,” Law said. “Ro has run a positive campaign focusing on growing the economy to create good paying jobs, ensuring people have the skills needed in the 21st century, leading by example on government reform, and championing an internet bill of rights. These are the issues that are relevant to improving the lives of people in the 17th district — not Ro’s college election nearly two decades ago.”

Khanna launched this online ad Wednesday that features this very Honda mailer:

In other 17th Congressional District news, California Attorney General Kamala Harris attended a fundraiser for Honda on Tuesday night at the San Francisco home of venture capitalist Andy Rappaport and his wife, Deborah. “He has been an effective champion in Congress on behalf of California’s justice system and has been there for its residents on a range of issues: from fighting to end domestic violence, improving public safety, ensuring civil rights of all people are protected and putting a stop to drug trafficking,” Harris said of Honda in a news release issued Wednesday morning. “Silicon Valley needs Congressman Honda’s effective leadership and it is my sincere hope we can continue to gain from it for years to come.”

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

    More interesting that either of these two, are the poll numbers on Vanila Singh. Did anyone else notice that she’s losing badly with women and that only 1% of 35-55 yo would vote for her? In other words, people in her own demographic group hate her. Any guesses as to why?

    If the rest of the candidates could identify what it is and do exactly the opposite, it may gives them a leg up 🙂

  • Naj

    Has Honda done anything? He’s a lump. Khanna has energy and will try to get work done.

  • Crazy_Like_A_Fox

    What I find bizarre is how early the Honda campaign has gone negative. It is unfitting and unorthodox for an incumbent go negative this early in a campaign, especially first! Honda’s campaign actually started with the attacks late last year. He must be really concerned about the poll numbers. His support in the polls has dropped considerably since last year, but he still leads by a comfortable margin. The negative campaign tactics could really come back to bite Honda, especially if Khanna doesn’t take the bait and stays on message. Whether folks agree with Khanna or not, he appears to be the only candidate who has actually shared a plan as to what he wants to accomplish if he’s elected. We haven’t seen that from any of the other candidates, including Honda. I’m actually surprised at how poorly Vanila Singh has executed her campaign. I thought she would be more of a threat. Assuming both Honda and Khanna advance, Honda would be wise to change his strategy… otherwise he may very well experience the same fate as Pete Stark. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

  • Elwood

    Khanna is an opportunistic carpetbagger with a bag of money looking for a district to run in. He didn’t have the cojones to run against Pete Stark.

    He’s an empty suit, the Meg Whitman of congressional races.


    Mike Honda has always cultivated an image of being nice guy and highly ethical at the same time. I am very disappointed in him as he has refused to campaign on ideas to the extent of refusing to debate during the primary. Furthermore, he has gone on a negative attack first that the Mercury News wrote an editorial against it. To start, Ro Khanna has offered ideas on how to fix the dysfunction in congress today by not accepting PAC or corporate contributions. He has also many ideas on how to get jobs back to the US even written a book about.it.

  • Elwood

    Ro’s staff becomes more pathetic and transparent every day.

  • Guest

    I see a perfect storm developing for Mike Honda. I expect Ro Khanna to finish better than recently published polls come election day. Honda’s been an elected official for 40 years – I doubt there is much enthusiasm left for his candidacy – voter fatigue sets in when somebody has been in office that long. Honda has been in office even longer than Pete Stark – he was a 38 year office holder! I think people are tired of Honda – just like they got tired of Stark, and that will be seen in the upcoming primary vote totals.
    Ro Khanna, in contrast, is a bright new face – he has an impeccable back round, which Honda has been unable to disparage. Khanna’s also armed with all those newspapers endorsements,five local newspapers have said Khanna is the right choice going forward, and they have said Honda’s day – after 40 years – is over.
    Khana also has this amazing GOTV operation going, his supporters are enthusiastic – he’s had 100’s of volunteers going door to door for months. I think when you factor in the expected low voter turnout – and combine that with Khanna’s impressive grassroots campaign, Honda’s lead will evaporate by election day. It will be a close race. That’s my prediction.

  • Guest

    I recall Pete Stark using the same tactics on Eric Swalwell that Mike Honda is using on Ro Khanna. False and misleading attacks ad’s – Stark bombarded voters with these for months leading up to the election. Honda’s attacks ads, in fact, are even worse than Stark’s. You’d think after 40 years in office Stark and Honda would have accomplished what they set out to do, but apparently not. Honda, like Stark, is trying to stretch his political career into a 50 year gig! I don’t think voters are going to go for that, they have seen enough of Honda, I think. 40 years in office! Time to hang up cleats!

  • Elwood

    Don’t bet the farm on it.

  • Elwood

    Take your spam and put it where the sun don’t shine!

  • Tom Pyke

    How is Ro Khanna like Meg Whitman? I thought Whitman was the symbol of a self-funded billionaire entering politics with no previous government experience.

  • Guest

    Ro Khanna is the kind of guy who has a half a days work done right at the time most are just getting up in morning. Khanna will be terrific in the job as 17th district Congressman. I would agree Mike Honda is a slug – the only time he moves quickly is getting ready for a special interest financed junket.

  • Elwood

    Try reading my post again.

  • Tom Pyke

    Jake, err Elwood, Meg Whitman was not “an opportunistic
    carpetbagger with a bag of money looking for a district to run in” and Khanna
    is not (a) a self-funded billionaire (or a millionaire for that matter) or (b)
    entering politics with no previous government experience. So I still don’t get the Whitman comparison.

  • Naj

    Dunno about that. He worked at the white house. He has a clear mainstream Democrat agenda. He has friends and energy. Honda has incumbency and inertia.