CA17: Candidates decry last-minute mailers

Some last-minute mailers are arriving in the 17th Congressional District, and they’re not pretty.

Here’s one of the mailers on which I first reported Thursday, sent by the union-funded Working for Us PAC as an independent expenditure opposing Democrat Ro Khanna in order to benefit Rep. Mike Honda:

Click to enlarge:
PAC mailer  1

PAC mailer 2

Khanna sees a racial dimension to this.

“I have dedicated my life with my work at Commerce, on NUMMI, and book on American manufacturing to figure out how to bring jobs back to our community and country,” Khanna said in an email Saturday morning. “To imply I want to ‘outsource’ jobs is subtly playing on stereotypes about Indian Americans. Not only is it not true, but it’s appealing to the worst kind of politics.”

Honda spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said he would stick with the statement he issued Thursday, when I broke the story about the PAC’s spending: “We had nothing to do with this independent expenditure and aren’t going to be distracted by what other campaigns or groups are doing. Our campaign is focused on getting out the vote for Mike Honda on Tuesday and making sure that voters know about Mike’s record of delivering for the middle class families of Silicon Valley.”

[Ed.note: See update below.]

Also, here’s a mailer that Republican Vanila Singh has sent out attacking Republican Joel VanLandingham:

Singh mailer

Singh mailer2

The mailer echoes accusations that Singh and others have been making that VanLandingham is a straw-man candidate brought into the race by Khanna supporters to dilute the GOP vote and boost Khanna’s chances of finishing in this primary’s top two with Honda, D-San Jose.

VanLandingham in an email Saturday morning said it looks like Singh “is not only a candidate but a comedian” and that he and his wife “got a huge laugh” from the mailer.

“To claim I am a ‘fake Republican’ is completely ridiculous and A BOLD FACED LIE. I am amazed at the amount of money she is spending, it only shows that the Party is pulling her strings and will continue to if she gets elected,” he said. “Here is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I have been a registered Republican for over 25 years. Versus Vanila Singh who registered as a Republican in Dec 2013. She has NO voting record and within the same week of registering to be a Republican, she pulls papers and files to run for office, a week later she magically raises $150,000. I think the people of District 17 are an intelligent and knowledgeable people, who could see through her smoke, mirrors and misdirection.”

“If both parties are campaigning against me, then I guess I am doing something right, it’s time 4 change,” VanLandingham added. “In a final note, I forgive, release and bless Vanila Singh for spreading lies and gossip about me and I pray that God forgives her as well.”

UPDATE @ 1:17 P.M. SUNDAY: Four Indo-American community leaders who support and have contributed to Ro Khanna’s campaign have written a letter to Honda asking him to repudiate the Working for Us PAC’s mailer:

Dear Congressman Honda,
I am appalled to see the campaign mailer that was sent out to voters in the 17th district by the Working for Us Political Action Committee. On the front page, it has a picture of Ro Khanna – an Indian American. In large red letters it reads: “DON’T LET RO KHANNA OUTSOURCE OUR JOBS” and “SENDING JOBS OVERSEAS. RO KHANNA”. This is the crudest form of racially coded language.

The intentional association of an Indian American and outsourcing to gin up fear and hatred is deplorable and unacceptable – especially in the heart of Silicon Valley. It is sad to see it coming in support of your campaign Congressman; you and your family suffered much from racial hatred during the Second World War.

I implore you to disassociate yourself from such dirty tricks. These tactics should have no place in the political discourse in this meritocratic district where Indian Americans have contributed so much.

Kanwal Rekhi, co-founder, The Indus Entrepreneurs
Anil Godwhani, co-founder, India Community Center
Kamil Hasan, co-founder, India Community Center
Talat Hasan, co-founder, India Community Center

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

    There is no question that the anti-Khanna ad is racist. It plays to stereotypes of Indians stealing American jobs, and it’s meant to fuel racial hatred. There should be no place for race baiting in one of the most diverse districts in the country.

    It is profoundly sad that this is being done to support Mike Honda, a man who has fought against racial discrimination his whole life. It is also sad that Honda’s campaign will not distance Mike Honda from those ads, by condemning them in his name. I don’t want to believe that Honda knows about them and condones them.

    It seems to me that Honda’s staffers are much more interested in having Honda elected at any cost, than they are in preserving the dignity of a man who has been a voice for the disenfranchised for a generation. I think Mike and his legacy deserves better.

  • Guest

    I took the time to read Ro Khanna’s book on US manufacturing. In the book he says it’s vital we make a national effort to jumpstart the US manufacturing sector of our economy – he says in the book we can do this with the right national policies, that the answer lies in Congress. Ro Khanna, unquestionably, is a fighter for US workers – for blue collar workers in particular – so it’s just sickening to read these ugly last minute attack ads put out by the Mike Honda campaign. One thing I’ve noticed – I’m sure many others have as well – is that Ro Khanna has conducted himself like a true gentleman – all throughout this campaign. No false and misleading attack ads, he has simply stayed on his message, that we need to reform Washington, and we need to implement policies that will create middle class jobs. I think a lot of voters have noticed what a classy campaign Khanna has ran – and I think a lot of voters will be turned off by Honda’s campaign of slime.
    The Washington DC PAC’s funding Mike Honda’s slime campaign are desperate to keep Ro Khanna out of Congress, Khanna’s talking reform – he wants to fix a system he believes is broke. Mike Honda, and his Washington DC PAC pals, want to keep things the way they are, which is why they have launched this slime campaign. I think voters are more attuned to Khanna’s message of reform and change, so I predict Khana will run better than expected on Tuesday.

  • Crazy_Like_A_Fox

    Pretty stupid of Singh’s campaign if you ask me. Giving her GOP opponent with no campaign budget a boost in nameID. Will likely cost her some votes.

  • Guest

    Singh has been obsessed with Vanlandingham from day one, she declined to attend the only debate – her chance to shine in front of voters – because VanLandingham was going to be there. Now she put’s Vanlandingham on her only mailer. Odd, very odd. Apparently Vanlandingham sticks in her craw – I’m guessing the mere mention of his name will cause Singh to fly into a rage. Vandinglam seems like an okay guy to me, I think he may be frontrunner now, Singh is clearly a bit nutty. In amazing turn of events Mike Honda has now teamed up with Singh – Honda’s PAC backers in DC are paying for this mailer, so in addition to sending out his own slime mailers, Honda has now teamed up with this dingbat Singh to put out mailers that feature Joel Vanlandingham! Odd, very ddd. I think to any casual observer this Ro Khanna is starting to look pretty good now , he’s running an above board classy campaign all the way. I think he’s next Congressman in the 17th, no doubt in my mind at all.

  • Elwood

    Re Khanna’s complaint: The cry of racism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

    See Jackson, Jesse and Sharpton, Al.

  • letsbehonest14

    I am so saddened by the way Congressman Honda has carried himself these past 5 months….no debates, no convincing positive vision/policies shared at the forum or editorial board interviews, getting caught (home/office locations) acting privileged to not even be in the district, even being caught sleeping at his town hall or on the House floor…but his direct mail pieces the last month ramping up this past week are despicable and beneath what I formerly thought was a nice and honorable man. He has lost his way. He so desperately wants to keep his job that he is acting in every way that he used to frown upon. He has sent 6 negative pieces of direct mail and only 2 positive ones. I too believe this last one is racist. I am blown away that he won’t disavow this IE’s direct mail piece. Whether Honda wins or loses, Tuesday or in November, I no longer respect him. He has proven his true colors in this race. He might be successfully in tricking some of the voters, but the light is now shining brightly on him and his tactics. Where Ro Khanna has run an inspiring, uplifting positive campaign (100% positive pieces), Honda has gone negative with lies, and grossly manipulated facts…his messaging is stuff I’d expect to see on Fox news. Honda’s acts lack courage and conviction. Congressman Honda, please find your dignity and start acting with honor, or you deserve to lose your entire legacy.

  • Guest

    I agree totally with this perceptive blogger, Mike Honda is running one of the worst barf-slime campaigns I’ve ever seen. These last minute hit piece mailers Honda has done targeting Ro Khanna are among the most vile and barfo in the history of NorCal Democratic politics. Not one scintilla of truth, facts completely twisted, information completely made whole cloth – out of thin air. I’m just shocked at these mailers, they are possibly the slimiest I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been following NorCal Congressional campaigns for 40 years. What gets me in this rap about Ro Khanna supporting moving jobs overseas. This fine young Stanford Professor Ro Khanna is one of the foremost experts in US on keeping jobs in the US, he bleeds for US blue collar workers, yet Honda is trying to spin it the other way! I think the fact Honda “signed off” on these mailers strongly supports the view that Honda is going batty, dropping made up lies like this in voters mailboxes is beneath the dignity of a sitting Congressman,.

  • Elwood

    Keep up the good work, Ro’s staff!

    Where you all gonna go to work after your boy isn’t even a footnote any more?

  • Elwood

    You go, Ro’s staff!

    Don’t you ever get tired of posting the same crap over and over?

    Ro wonderful, Honda terrible! Jeez, can’t you learn a new song?

  • Elwood

    “There is no question that the anti-Khanna ad is racist.”

    No question in your mind Marga, which is well known for its unique perceptions.

  • Ricardo CB

    My Dearest “letsbedishonest14″, you must have a template for posting comments…exact same over, and over…well, here I go…”I am more saddened by the waste of what is so far $4 million to attack another Democrat by a district shopping, ‘I wanna run for something’, too important for parks and recreation board meetings, two years is just enough at Commerce for resume building, totally undistinguished besides ‘talking, talking, talking’ with no real record to back them up” type candidate….this election comes down to over 30 years of public service record vs talk, talk, talk,,,letsbedishones14 has yet to seriously talk about any real beef in policy against Honda…I suggest Honda not debate the other candidate until the other candidate build some record to back his orifice movement!!!

  • letsbehonest14

    Ricardo CB, my issue here was the blatant negativity of Honda’s campaign, pure and simple. Khanna’s been 100% positive, even after he’s been falsely attacked. But if you want to go after Khanna, how about getting your facts straight – $4mm is not “attacking” Honda at all, it’s been building Khanna’s campaign. I can not recall there EVER being a political campaign in CA that has canvassed as hard as Khanna’s….I heard over 100K homes visited. That takes money, an incredible team and a positive message. Hard word like that gets my vote right there. But on top of that, technically, Honda’s the carpetbagger here not Khanna. I’d be careful how you frame district shopping as Honda did EXACTLY that when he chose to give up his former seat to run for CA-17. You’re commenting on a “volunteer” parks & recreation board? Seriously? How about that Honda’s got one of the lowest voting records in Congress – oh and that’s his actual taxpayer funded JOB. BTW, two years is slightly above the average time for any political appointee job. And after serving, his “talking, talking, talking” was followed up by his writing THE book (no ghost writer) on manufacturing that was printed by one of the top business publishing houses. I would rather have a great next generation candidate than another 2, 4, 10 years of an extremely unremarkable legislative 30 year incumbent. Oh, and by the way, when an incumbent refuses to debate a legitimate challenger, I find that to be cowardly and uninspiring. It’s my right as a voter to compare candidates. If Honda’s your friend, then I respect your supporting him. But please don’t make false charges on Khanna. People like and respect him too.

  • Dave_94302

    The guy is not a “Stanford Professor”. Giving a seminar once is not remotely good enough.

    Who are you????

    -Dave Chapman
    Candidate for Congress 2010, 2012
    Palo Alto

  • JohnW

    Khanna is listed in the Stanford Academic Staff Directory as a “Lecturer in Economics” and, according to the directory, has an office there. That doesn’t make him a Professor in the academic pecking order. But it also doesn’t make him somebody “giving a seminar once.”

  • Ricardo CB

    Mr. Letsbedishonest, spending $4 million (so far…) to prop up an underachieving, full of mouth candidate would be the ultimate negative!! what a shame and waste of Dem money when we need to defeat Republicans and gain back the majority…let us see if he can really buy a seat…I am sure with ten million, one can get any thing elected…if writing a book is a criteria, we have over one million candidates in this country…does he have any experience in what he wrote about?You don’t support Ro Kanna…you are “probably” paid by Ro Kanna…I think its about time to ‘fess up…

  • letsbehonest14

    Ricardo, I wish you could be respectful with your comments. I never attack you and question whether you work for Honda, why do you me? I do not…nor have ever. I have an industry job. As to your points, I disagree. When Khanna is getting so many new supporters and donors involved in this race, why is that a “waste”? Can’t those donors support other Dem candidates? I heard that the majority of his supporters are first timers to politics. Isn’t that a total positive for democracy and for Democrats? If Honda was doing such a good job for the Valley, he’d have more supporters from here rather than relying on PACs/special interests and Beltway buddies. And, btw, writing a book is actually quite difficult. I haven’t done it? Have you? I know Honda certainly hasn’t. Is it impossible to give Khanna credit for anything? seriously?

  • Elwood

    Oh, Ricardo, please don’t say unkind things about letsbehonest14. That isn’t nice. He’s working on Ro’s staff as hard as he can!

  • Ricardo CB

    MrDishonest14, wow…you strictly stick to the talking points provided by the Ro campaign…I think I know who you work for…good amount of money Ro raised were under the pretense that he was going to run against Stark..”I need a district, I need a district…yayayaya…I want my DC candy…!!!”