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CA17: Khanna tops Honda again in fundraising

Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna significantly outraised incumbent Rep. Mike Honda in 2015’s final quarter, and now has about three times as much money banked for their electoral rematch this year, according to initial reports from both campaigns.

Both Democrats want to represent the 17th Congressional District, which lies in the heart of Silicon Valley and is the first district outside Hawaii in which Asian-Americans make up a majority of voters. Khanna, a Fremont resident who served for two years in President Barack Obama’s Commerce Department, lost 2014’s bruising, nationally watched election by 3.6 percentage points as Honda held on for an eighth term.

Ro KhannaKhanna’s campaign said Wednesday that he raised more than $500,000 and spent about $117,000 from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, leaving him with more than $1.7 million cash on hand and about $52,800 in outstanding debt.

“I am proud to see support for our campaign to strengthen the middle class create this type of enthusiasm and energy,” Khanna said in a news release. “Because we refuse to take PAC and lobbyist money, we’re going to need our grassroots support to take on the special interests and bring change to Washington. As we grow our campaign in 2016, we will continue to fund a grassroots campaign that engages and empowers the people of the 17th District.”

Khanna spent big on television ads and campaign consultants in 2014’s primary, leaving his campaign almost broke in the final weeks before that November’s general election; a super PAC called Californians for Innovation independently spent about $776,000 on his behalf to help bear him over the finish line.

Honda’s campaign said Wednesday that he raised $290,250 and spent $276,137 – a much higher burn rate than Khanna’s – in 2015’s fourth quarter, leaving him with $571,266 cash on hand and $20,907 in outstanding debt.

honda.jpgThe congressman “has raised more money at this point in the campaign cycle than in 2014, and like last time, the campaign is on track to raise the resources necessary to win this race,” campaign manager Michael Beckendorf said. “Even without the luxury of conservative millionaires and billionaires bankrolling his campaign, Mike Honda will win this race because he is the only candidate who has a track record of reaching across the aisle to deliver for Silicon Valley while standing up for justice and equality.”

But it’s not just re-election for which Honda is raising money. His campaign in the first three quarters of last year paid out a total of about $109,000 to two Washington, D.C., law firms and a San Francisco crisis-communications shop to combat the ongoing ethics investigation of which he’s a target. The House Ethics Committee is still probing whether Honda’s office and campaign broke House rules or federal laws by sharing resources, and it’s not yet known how much he paid his lawyers and spokespeople in the year’s final quarter.

Neither candidate’s full report to the Federal Election Commission is available yet; the filing deadline is Jan. 31. Khanna outraised Honda in 2015’s third, second and first quarters, too.

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.

  • Tom Pyke

    Khanna only accepts individual contributions. Individual contributions are limited to $2,700 per election (primary and general elections are separate). Math not mythology.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    RoKha is a bully. He is the left’s version of Ted Cruz or Newt Gingrich. He ran against Tom Lantos. He skipped a race against Pete Stark because he appealed to the same loony base of malcontents. Now, with not much at stake, he’s targeting aging Honda, probably because he needs a higher income

  • Taylor

    This cycle is incredibly different from last. Khanna is running a tight campaign, saving money, being strategic, and doing a phenomenal job with fundraising. The labor endorsement and support Khanna is garnering shows that. It’s finally time to turn a page in CA17. After Honda’s ethics violations all I can think is TIME TO RETIRE!

  • Crazy_Like_A_Fox

    I am baffled that Honda’s campaign had over $276K in expenses in Q4. What in the world did he spend all of that money on? I will be curious to see the FEC filing at the end of the month. If I had to take a guess, I would guess that he had a bunch of deferred legal fees which became due at the end of the year. The ongoing ethics investigation will continue to haunt him as the election cycle progresses.

  • Marga

    I would also imagine that Honda has had to hire more campaign stuff after he announced he wouldn’t have his Congressional staff do double duty.

  • Marga

    Last time around Khanna started with no name recognition and 3% of the vote. It’s very different this time around.

  • Crazy_Like_A_Fox

    Ha! That’s a very good guess as well, Marga. I did see that he hired a new political director in November.

  • Willis James

    Lantos, Stark, Honda, three aging dinosaurs who cling to their office… (emphasis on “their” office).
    Time to clear out some of these office holders who hang on long after their energy and creativity has run dry.
    They rely on Lock-Step party insiders to prop them up, election after election… counting on them to be reliable “lever-pullers” for two more years.
    Call anyone who challenges them a “bully”… as they themselves try to bully and intimidate anyone who dare challenges “their” office.

    Time to send these clinging do-nothings into forced retirement.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    A rerun between Honda and Khanna should be as enlightening as the first round. Where are we? Georgia in 1950? One-party rule is bad; just look at Berkeley or Oakland elections. No issues, just posturing

  • Willis James

    Retiring Rep Sam Farr’s quote

    “And I watched people stay in Congress too long, and I didn’t want to be like them,” Farr said

    BTW, did anyone notice, Sam Farr is younger than Mike Honda?

    Or that Rep George Miller retired last year, and he is 4 years younger than Mike Honda…

    Miller said the following

    “Choosing not to seek a 21st term took a lot of soul-searching, Miller said, but he decided that if he couldn’t keep up the nonstop energy he promised voters in 1974, it wouldn’t be fair to keep the seat.”

    I guess Mike Honda never made such a promise….or never had the energy in the first place…
    Still, Mike Honda is a nice old gent… perhaps we should give him one last hurrah for old times sake… I guess that’s reason enough to keep him around.. right?