CA17: Khanna knocks Honda on attendance record

Democratic challenger Ro Khanna took Rep. Mike Honda to task Wednesday for missing floor votes on four bills the day before, including two of which he’s a co-sponsor and a third by a fellow Bay Area member.

“The bare minimum that’s expected of anyone is showing up – but Congressman Honda isn’t even doing that,” Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law said in a news release. “On a Tuesday of all days and with only 19 work days left, it’s shocking that he would blow off four important votes, including consideration of bills that he put his name on. People across the Bay Area are working hard every day to support their families and make ends meet – they have every right to expect their Congressman to do the same. That’s why Rep. Honda should immediately disclose to his constituents where he was yesterday and what prevented him from casting votes on their behalf.”

Honda, D-San Jose, was at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills on Wednesday to greet President Barack Obama’s helicopter; the president was on his way to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at the home of real estate mogul George Marcus.

Asked about Khanna’s criticism, Honda explained he’s in the Bay Area because his daughter is scheduled to undergo back surgery Thursday; he intends to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Khanna’s campaign says Honda has missed 447 votes during his seven terms in Congress – the worst attendance record of any California Democrat, and second-worst among all House Democrats, who’ve been serving as long as him who came to Congress when he did. In 2013, he missed 59 votes, including those on restoring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the poor as well as the farm bill; he was in San Jose for a campaign fundraiser at the time.

“With a dismal attendance record, it’s no surprise that he’s been unable to deliver for his constituents,” said the release from Khanna’s campaign. “After 14 years in Congress, he has passed only one bill into law – to name a post office.”

UPDATE @ 5:32 P.M.: This just in from Honda’s campaign…


Congressman Mike Honda has dedicated his life to his community: after serving in the Peace Corps, he worked as a high school science teacher, principal, Santa Clara County Supervisor, State Assemblyman, and now Member of Congress. Over his career, he has mentored and developed countless others with a similar desire for service. You have rightly praised his leadership on issues affecting Asian-Americans, and said that he is “an outstanding Representative for our area.”

All of this work has required personal sacrifices: time spent serving the community has often meant time away from his family. Many excellent public servants make these sacrifices, though it’s a part of the job that isn’t mentioned much. But as anyone with a family can tell you, there are times when your family must come first. Some of these moments for Congressman Honda have come during the past fourteen years: the loss of his wife of 37 years, the passing of his mother, the birth of his first grandchild, and, this week, a major surgery his daughter is undergoing. During those times, he made the decision to miss votes so he could be there for his family.

You’ve made it abundantly clear that you will do anything to get into Congress. But I hope that you will at least refrain from attacking Congressman Honda for being with his family during their time of need.


Vivek Kembaiyan
Communications Director
Mike Honda for Congress

UPDATE @ 8 P.M.: Aaaaannd… this just in from Khanna’s campaign!

Dear Vivek,

Thank you for your letter.

We all honor Congressman Honda’s many years of service, and the sacrifices he’s made along the way. We also respect Congressman Honda’s family responsibilities, and wish his daughter a speedy recovery.

Nonetheless, Congressman Honda’s record of missing 447 votes is the second worst attendance record of any Democrat who came to Congress when he did. Surely all of Rep. Honda’s Democratic colleagues take their family responsibilities seriously as well.

In addition, it is clear that many of the missed votes took place while Congressman Honda was focusing on politics, not delivering for his constituents. One example was skipping last year’s crucial vote to restore SNAP funding because the Congressman was at a fundraiser.

All of this would be easier if Congressman Honda showed his constituents the respect of transparency and publicly released his schedule – something that we have asked for repeatedly.

While we respect Congressman Honda’s family responsibilities, we simply cannot accept your incomplete explanation of the Congressman’s lackluster attendance record at a time when Silicon Valley needs representatives who are up to the task of leading us into a new economic future.


Tyler Law
Press Secretary
Ro Khanna for Congress

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.

  • Elwood

    Wowsers! Honda’s in big trouble now! That’ll turn the tide for sure!

  • Guest

    Honda’s dismal attendance record in Congress is one of the reasons -among others -Honda has been so ineffective as a House Member. Honda is NOT a hard worker, that’s well known. He – like the current Congress in general -moves at a snails pace. He’s a lot like ex-House member Pete Stark -ousted by voters in the 15th district two years ago, he’s kind of lazy – he just does enough work to get by, hoping nobody will notice (Stark also had dismal attendance record, didn’t like stopping by the office much either).
    Honda like Stark, loves all the perks of being a Congressman – the free travel, the bloated staffs, getting invited to all these great DC parties with all the big shots, but he clearly doesn’t like the work of being a Congressman. The dull, boring hours you spend writing bills, the committee hearings, the 14 hour work days, the time spent negotiating with other members, meeting with constituents, huddling with local business owners, running from meeting to meeting – Honda – like Stark- won’t be caught dead doing that stuff! I’m sorry, that’s the truth, there is no other explanation why Honda has such a weak legislative record -he’s accomplished absolutely nothing in 14 years! He’s like a ghost Congressman, he’s there but not there.
    I like this Ro Khanna for this seat, the guy is a worker, you can see that clearly. Over in the 15th voters ousted lazy Pete Stark – replacing him with this human dynamo Eric Swalwell. Swalwell just a frosh Congressman – his bills aren’t passing -as Josh just reported -but give that kid time, he ‘s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen. Swalwell’s generation is going to produce leaders – bet the farm on that. But you got to give them the key, give them a chance to lead. Voters in the 17th district, I think, have an opportunity to replace another lazy-slug- of- a Congressman- Mike Honda – with this brilliant Yale educated lawyer Ro Khanna. I think if voters do this, they will be the winners. The decline of the US – from an economic standpoint – continues to unfold before our eyes, but we can turn this around – by hard work, Congress needs to start working harder, Congress will work harder if you put hard working types in those seats, I think.

  • Marga

    What I find ironic is that with such dismal attendance record to Congress, Honda would make noise about Khanna not attending Planning Commission meetings a decade ago. Let’s talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

  • Guest

    I think Josh is in error when he reports Congressman Ami Bera in trouble, at risk at losing his seat. Republican party is in shambles in that district, tea party types hate the moderates – including Republican nominee Doug Ose. Tea party voters all going to stay home and not vote in that race, that’s the word I’m hearing. I got Bera pencilled in as a 55% to 45% winner.

  • Delaney

    I’m confused. If Honda came back to the Bay for his daughter, then why did he leave her to get a photo op with the President? That seems inconsistent with Vivek’s statement and hypocritical by definition. YOu can’t use a family crisis to excuse yourself from your official job, but then, at your convenience, go try to score points for your campaign. If Honda had stayed at the hospital the whole time, Vivek’s argument would have held some water. Honda got caught. It’s one or the other….Sorry, Vivek.

  • Guest

    Making a jab at Ro in the final paragraph cheapens the point that Vivek was trying to make…but since Vivek went there….I’d remind him that there are MANY people still very upset by the racist direct mail pieces that Honda and his supporters put out in the four weeks leading up to the primary. They went negative and spread hateful and malicious lies about Ro. Ro never did. Honda should be ashamed of his campaigns actions. He proved that HE would stoop to anything to try keep his job.

  • Elwood

    Good to see Ro’s staff is still hard at work. Pro Ro posters never seen before popping up all over the place.

    Hope he doesn’t run out of money to pay them between now and November. If he does they might have to find honest work.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    If Honda spends too much time in DC he’s out of touch with the home folks. If Honda doesn’t show up at The Capitol regularly he’s lazy and ineffective. Honda is a racist too. Honda stinks all around. —RoKha campaign

  • Marga

    You know, I don’t approve of Eric Swalwell’s politics or ethics – but I think he shows that it is possible to be both engaged in your job in Washington and visit your district regularly – to see your constituents. Honda seems to be unable to do either – when is the last time that he had an in-person townhall meeting? I think none since the one where he was photographed with his eyes closed.

  • JohnW

    That’s true for all the U.S. Reps and Senators. I would rather see these people stay in DC, getting things done and learning how to play well with the other kids. I agree with Marga’s comment that, so far, Swalwell seems to be striking a pretty good balance, as did his mentor, Ellen Tauscher.