CA17: San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed backs Khanna

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has endorsed Ro Khanna in his bid to unseat fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda.

Chuck Reed

Reed, a Democrat who’s term-limited out of office at the end of this year, said Friday that as he prepares to leave public life, he’s been thinking about the future challenges Silicon Valley will face.

“I think our Silicon Valley team in Washington would be greatly strengthened if we add Ro Khanna,” he said, particularly for the sake of changing federal taxes and regulations that impede the region’s economy. “Silicon Valley’s interests would be his number-one priority.”

Khanna “understands the tech sector and the global challenges to the valley,” Reed said, and can make the region’s case “in a way that can get bipartisan support, which is certainly needed in the House.”

Reed said he called Honda earlier Friday to inform him of the choice, which was “a sad conversation.”

“It’s nothing personal,” he said, adding Honda is “an affable guy” and “has done a good job, but I think we need to step up our game in Washington.”

Khanna’s campaign was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Reed’s endorsement of Khanna is “not at all surprising.”

“Both politicians believe in stripping public servants of retirement benefits – even if that means decimating our public safety network in Reed’s case – and both have been labeled Republican lites,” he said. “Reed may call himself a Democrat, but his track record of pushing to overhaul unions, oppose gay marriage, block minimum wage increases and eliminate limits on campaign contribution suggest otherwise.”

Reed also has endorsed Republican Ashley Swearengin over Democrat Betty Yee in the race for the state controller’s office, Kembaiyan noted, and “has served as a faithful and longtime ally of San Jose Councilman turned evangelical right-wing activist Larry Pegram.”

“Reed’s endorsement of Khanna is just further reflection of his conservative values,” he said.

UPDATE @ 7:20 P.M.: “I think he did it because it’s what best for the future of Silicon Valley,” Khanna said of Reed’s endorsement Friday evening, despite Honda having represented the region for so long.

Taken together with endorsements from other Democrats like former state Controller Steve Westly and Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom, Reed’s backing says something about philosophical differences within the Democratic party, Khanna said.

Party leaders like President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are in Honda’s corner, but “Honda is a more orthodox, traditional Democrat” while Khanna said he has always made it clear he’ll reach out to independents and Republicans for a chance to work across the aisle in the GOP-controlled House. “It raises a question of what it means to be a Democrat from Silicon Valley.”

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

    Note to Vivek: a progressive would understand that if instead of paying police officers $200K a year and letting them retire at 50 with 90% salary, we used that money to improve our social services and education – we would have less crime and need less police officers. It’s one thing to stand for the pension rights of janitors, but the grossly overpayed “public safety” workers? Please!

  • Elwood

    I wonder what Reed thinks a junior member of the minority party can accomplish?

  • RRSenileColumnist

    U wanna risk your life every day? Ask progs to join PD

  • Marga

    If I wanted to really risk my life every day, I’d become a fisherwoman, a miner or a construction worker.

  • JohnW

    Good comment!

  • JohnW

    Was there a problem recruiting and retaining police officers and fire fighters (or other local and state workers) 15 years ago, before Gray Davis increased the pensions by 50%?

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Being a plumber or carpenter is more dangerous than a cop?

  • Marga

    If they work in construction, yes.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Next time I see an electrical contractor, I’ll buy him a beer to thank him for the risk he takes wiring buildings for the rest of us to use

  • Marga

    You should. While most deaths of construction workers are due to falls or being hit by objects, about 9% of the 800 or so construction workers who die every year, died due to electrocution.

    It’s a sad thing that in America the many of the most dangerous professions are among the lowest paid ones.

    BTW, most deaths of police officers are in car accidents. They could reduce these significantly, if they started driving with some degree of care. They would also kill fewer people with their cars.

  • JohnW

    Being a cop is more dangerous than being a soldier or Marine? Military retirees don’t get anywhere near the type of compensation and pensions that cops and firefighters get in CA.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Marga is correct on occupational death/injury rates. Working as a fisherman in Alaskan waters–statistically– is the most perilous job an American can have. Marga is on less firm ground criticising police driving skills.

  • JohnW

    I don’t know about driving “skills,” but they sure as heck can get reckless. Recently there was an officer involved shooting in Pacheco. I had the misfortune of driving North on Contra Costa Blvd while the police were responding. Didn’t know what all the fuss was about but knew I was supposed to pull off to the right. Police call pulled up right behind me with the speaker on, yelling “pull over, pull over.” Scared me half to death. Unfortunately, the only place for me to pull over would have been to turn the wrong way onto the freeway exit. I truly understand their urgency to get to the scene, but that doesn’t give them license to endanger people the way this guy did.