CA17: Union flips support from Honda to Khanna

A labor union that had endorsed Rep. Mike Honda in 2014 now has switched sides to endorse Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in this year’s 17th Congressional District rematch.

LiUNAThe Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Pacific Southwest Region – a construction-workers union boasting 63,000 members in California and a few thousand more in Hawaii, New Mexico and Arizona – announced its endorsement of Khanna on Wednesday.

“We honor your commitment to fairness and truth as you seek to represent the interests of our communities, our Union, and all working men, women and families,” Rocco Davis, the union’s vice president and regional manager, wrote in a Dec. 18 letter to Khanna. “We take seriously your commitment to these issues that are critical to our union and our members and to this end we look forward to assisting your campaign and working with you in progressing our mutual goals in the future.”

Asked Wednesday whether Davis’ “fairness and truth” line refers to the ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation of whether Honda’s office and campaign broke rules or laws by sharing resources, LiUNA international representative Izaak Velez replied, “That is not a swipe at Mike Honda in any way, shape or form.

“We fully respect Mike Honda’s service and appreciate everything he’s done,” Velez said. “We’re not here to badmouth the service Mike Honda has given.”

Ro KhannaKhanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont who now works for a company that makes water and electricity conservation software, issued a news release saying the Bay Area’s working men and women have forged the community’s and economy’s strength. “As we march into a new century we must find new, innovative ways to ensure we hold onto that strength by revitalizing our manufacturing base, expanding the middle class and strengthening educational opportunity.”

Santa Clara Vice Mayor Debi Davis and former two-term Milpitas Mayor Bob Livengood also have flipped from supporting Honda, D-San Jose, in 2014 to supporting Khanna now. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles – all of whom remained neutral in 2014 – have endorsed Khanna, too.

But overall, much of the Democratic establishment and most labor unions seem to be staying in Honda’s corner.

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.

  • JohnW

    Looks like things are coming unglued for Honda. Any bets on whether he might decide to retire rather than get creamed in the primary?

  • Relax Bro

    “overall, much of the Democratic establishment and most labor unions seem to be staying in Honda’s corner.”

    If South Bay labor or Pelosi had switched, I’d agree with unglued

  • NewDem2016

    haha….will be interesting to see how Honda camp spins this one. first they poo pooed when De Leon endorsed, then insulted Liccardo, Rosen and Stone as being not that important, then the locals were called nobodies, then no response when Padilla announced. All Honda camp keeps doing is announcing (slowly) endorsements of people that endorsed last cycle. I wonder how the union will feel when Honda continues to paint Ro, a lifelong democrat, as a republican. I’m sure that will rile them up like it does other Ro Dem/Ind supporters. Good luck with that one, Mike!!!

    BTW, wasn’t Padilla a Honda backer last cycle? I thought I read that he flipped sides.

  • Willis James

    ““fairness and truth” line —- has absolutely nothing to do with the decision.
    The the currents have shifted and it is increasingly clear to those who haven’t committed that it makes overwhelming sense to go with the probable winner.
    Looking at it logically, why place your bets on a candidate that at best has one more term? Under the worst case scenario, you lose favor with a ineffective congressman for 2 years. Weigh that compared with being on board early with a candidate who likely will be in office for 12 to 24 years.

    The call on this one is not even close when you examine your choices.
    As the weeks roll onward, the tilt should have 75% of new endorsements going to Khanna. Honda is well past his high water mark and everyone can sense that. Only those bound by tradition and lockstep loyalty are going with Honda.
    Becoming clear the Honda campaign is barely hanging on, and as we saw when that happened to Stark, even in the campaign headquarters there was no energy. Just a bunch of signs with no enthusiasm.
    How in the world do you get supporters whipped up for “Two more years, Two more years” ? (when the prior two years were anything but inspiring)

  • Relax Bro

    I don’t get your logic: are you suggesting that if Honda won in 2016, Khanna would run again in 2018?

    Has Honda said he will retire and not run in 2018, if he wins in 2016?

  • NewDem2016

    Pelosi is the head of the Party in the House. She has a professional and political obligation to endorse any Dem member of Congress. It’s in her job description. South Bay is long establishment…never would expect them to go against any Dem incumbent either. Your bar is too high and unrealistic given how politics works, Bro!

  • NewDem2016

    quite the contrary. Honda is on record as saying he plans on living to and holding his office until 105. Not kidding….

  • Willis James

    “are you suggesting that if Honda won in 2016, Khanna would run again in 2018?”

    No, not necessarily. I don’t know what Khanna would do in that case.

    All I know is that the downside of going with Khanna is minimal because all you are risking is having a little bit less influence with a lackluster incumbent who is out in two years max, and who hasn’t done much of anything for many years.

    I just can’t see how supporting Khanna is any significant risk. The party is itching to move onward. Only “stuck-ness” keeps some supporting Honda.

    Like him or not, Gavin Newsom is where the party is headed, not some tired candidate from a bygone era. Sadly we all age, and some do so faster than others.

    Honda is not Nancy Pelosi or Diane Feinstein in terms of intelligence, vitality or imagination.
    Not that I am thrilled with those two sticking around much longer.

    Why can’t some have the good sense of Rep. George Miller? He knew that California and the nation could move on without him.
    Yet too many of these people cling to their lifestyle long after they have stopped contributing useful service.

  • Relax Bro

    So why is Willis James saying “Looking at it logically, why place your bets on a candidate that at best has one more term? ”

    Surely RK cannot run a third time if 2016 doesn’t go as Willis James expects?

  • Relax Bro

    Honda wins, he gets to stay till 105 if he wants. Khanna is an incredible fundraiser, but raising support for a third run?

    Core issue on the endorsement: what’s the upside to endorsing Khanna? If Khanna wins, he’s going to need you more than your need him. If you drop support from Honda as a fellow congressional peer, then people know that you don’t support them when you are down. If Honda wins, he’s not a vindictive guy, but a party prefers to stick together. Who knows what ambitious person with connections to a major industry has his career plans interreputed and runs against you next?

    Khanna and staff are not behaving like they have won or the dynamic has changed…otherwise they’d stop jumping all over every little triviality…makes them look desperate.

    The slow rollout is better than blowing your load early (doing Rosen, Liccardo, Stone on the same day rather than highlighting Stone’s switch by giving him his own day, as an example)

  • NewDem2016

    I have no idea. However, I can tell you that Ro’s supporters are extremely loyal and very upset with Honda. They were offended by Honda’s racist attacks last year and his persistent misrepresentation of Ro’s positions this year. I heard that donors and voters were so angry about Honda’s victory “crowe” that they were calling Ro within minutes, begging him to run again. I personally know a bunch of South Asians and tech people that will keep backing him as many times as it takes to defeat Honda. If not, this year, I cringe that this will continue in 2018, 2020, 2022, whatever it takes! Ugh.

  • Relax Bro

    I meant SBLC (the org Ben Field heads up).

    I don’t know – she made Chakka step down from Comittee and let Honda replace him…

    Certainly not obligated to do anything…if she thought Khanna was better for party she could endorse him and what would Honda do?

  • Willis James

    OMG, from A to Z, you have some of the most twisted logic I’ve read in some time.

    My favorites…

    1. “what’s the upside to endorsing Khanna? If Khanna wins, he’s going to need you more than you need him”

    –What? …Oh yeah, sounds logical…

    2. “If you drop support from Honda as a fellow congressional peer, then people know that you don’t support them when they are down.”

    –OK, that wins him a handful of congress members, but not voters.

    3. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone all announced on the same day…

    OK, but NO… you suggest it was a mistake,

    “doing Rosen, Liccardo, Stone on the same day rather than highlighting Stone’s switch by giving him his own day, as an example”

    Yes delay it… create suspense, then have a official “Larry Stone Endorsement Day” all the papers, the radio, TV, news reports will highlight the shocking news that the County Assessor has swung over to Khanna. My God, yes indeed a special day for Assessor Larry Stone, a household name on nearly every block. No doubt it will be discussed at every dinner table that evening.

    Your logic and political acumen seems hatched in Never-Never Land.
    Even Larry Stone would have a good laugh at your idea.
    God help Honda if you are part of his brain trust.

    You seem deeply invested in your bizarre ideas.

    For the record I have no stake in this race. I now live in Barbara Lee’s district but have followed East Bay politics for some 50+ years.

    Participating for most of those years but now just observing the game.

    To me its like watching a good sporting match and mentally placing my bets. Followed the nose dive tactics of Pete Stark, while all the insiders boasted how he’d demolish the “rookie”… Bye bye Pete.

    Now Honda, with his clueless campaign manager, is following a similar path. But for Honda’s good nature, he’d already be written off.

    He can’t afford any more missteps, but I’m afraid there will be new ones to come.

    Keep posting, your ideas are incredible.

  • Relax Bro

    The only thing was sort of an argument by you (everything else was just rhetoric) was that yes, Larry Stone is not a big name!

    But they gave the vice mayor of Santa Clara her own day!

  • Willis James

    “Also, you don’t think Pelosi or Lee’s endorsements help with D voters? ”

    You seem to be still caught up in the pre- “Top Two” era.
    Yes, there are still a few “D” voters who will vote in a robotic manner, or from one of those slate cards, but there are many more who think that Pelosi and Lee are tired incumbents that have hung onto office far too long. They only add to the perception that the old insider crowd is just trying to hang on with “lever pullers” like Honda.

    But more importantly you seem to think you can win the race with Democrats. Lots of us Democrats want some new energy instead of seat warmers. The support of Lee only serves to skew Honda further to one end of the spectrum.
    Exactly what he doesn’t want.

    Facing Khanna in November, he has to get many independents as well as Republicans to go over 50.1%
    If those folks have only two choices, Honda and Khanna, who will get their votes? A “last term” far left candidate, or someone with new ideas who has positioned himself in the middle of the district?

    Its really amazing how long it is taking the Democratic Party insiders to come to terms with the “top two” reality.

  • Relax Bro

    People get this – Khanna formula for victory is well understood: get “all” the republicans plus a third of the democrats and you win. In the district, based on 2015, this means the city of Santa Clara is the key city (this is why, for example, Honda moved his office to Santa Clara from San Jose).

    You can see my full thoughts on the race (since you seem to be such of fan of my probably completely wrong thought process) here. I wrote this back in May 2015 but the only thing that has changed is the House Ethics stuff…


  • JohnW

    I get the sense that there is a lot of “wink, wink” going on. Pelosi and others not turning on Honda but not exactly pulling out the stops to prevent others from jumping ship.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    The American people are damn tired of hearing about Honda and Khanna!—attributed to Da Bern
    Is KhannIt’s life devoted to ousting Honda?

  • Elwood

    I don’t suppose the Laborers dude being named Patel had anything to do with the endorsement switch.

    Years of faithful service, but what have you done for us lately?