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CA17: Honda spends big while Khanna runs dry

That dull thud you heard echoing across the 17th Congressional District recently was the sound of Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign dropping a massive $651,000 in October’s first half, according to a report filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

Ro Khanna, Honda’s Democratic challenger, spent only about $168,000 during the same time, his report shows – and his campaign is now on the financial ropes.

Recent polls have shown a close race between the seven-term incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, and Khanna, and each have tried to maximize their impact since vote-by-mail ballots went out Oct. 6.

Honda’s report shows his campaign – which started the month with about $1 million in the bank – raised another $106,000 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, leaving him about $420,000 cash on hand but just short of $10,000 in debt at the close of that period.

The lion’s share of the spending went to the Washington, D.C. media and strategic communications firm of Adelstein Liston: $370,960 for a digital media buy and another $66,926 for “media services.” Next came the San Francisco-based Terris, Barnes & Walters campaign firm: $107,348 for direct mail, and $25,000 for campaign consulting.

Khanna – who started this race with far more money but spent most of it before June’s primary, in which he finished 20 points behind Honda – had about $218,000 cash on hand at the start of this month but about $141,000 in debt.

His new report shows he raised about $97,000 but spent about $168,000 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, leaving him with $148,000 cash on hand but $141,000 in debt – so, about $7,000 in unencumbered money.

Most of Khanna’s October spending – almost $111,000 – went to Chicago-based AKPD Message & Media (run by Obama campaign paid-media mogul Larry Grisolano) for direct mail.

I don’t yet see a pre-general report for Californians for Innovation, the independent super PAC formed this summer to support Khanna’s campaign and bankrolled in large part ($250,000 that we know so far) by Texas energy hedge fund billionaire John Arnold. When I do, I’ll update this post accordingly.

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | No Comments »

CA17: Honda blasts firm fined for wage theft

Rep. Mike Honda talked tough Thursday against a Fremont company that the Labor Department has fined for unfair labor practices – the CEO of which is a donor to and endorser of his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna.

Electronics For Imaging paid several employees from India as little as $1.21 an hour to help install computer systems at the company’s Fremont headquarters, federal labor officials said Wednesday.

Honda, D-San Jose, issued a statement Thursday saying these practices “constitute the most egregious type of wage theft and employee abuse. They undermine fair labor competition among businesses, and if left unaddressed they would erode the idea that this is an economy of opportunity.”

Honda said the Labor Department “operated within their guidelines to deliver justice” – a $3,500 fine plus payment of more than $40,000 in back wages – but wage laws must be updated to deter such things “especially for a publicly traded, multi-national corporation that generated $197.7 million in revenue in its last quarter.”

“As soon as Congress comes back into session, I will introduce a commonsense change in our labor laws which will ensure that there a strong, effective minimum penalty in place for offenders, and increase the maximum penalty enough to deter unscrupulous employers from contemplating wage abuses against workers in the United States,” Honda said. “We will send a message that wage abuses are human rights abuses and competitive abuses that will not be tolerated by our economy and society.”

EFI CEO Guy Gecht contributed $2,600 to Khanna’s campaign in September 2013, and is listed among Khanna’s tech-executive endorsements on the campaign’s website. (UPDATE @ 5:19 P.M.: Khanna’s campaign has just removed Gecht’s name from the endorsement list.)

“The inexcusable exploitation by Electronics for Imaging goes against everything that Silicon Valley stands for,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Thursday. “Their behavior is not representative of the hardworking and honest people who live and work in the 17th District, and should serve as a reminder of why we need strong labor laws in this country. Ro is encouraged that they have been fined by the Labor Department and is committed to forcefully confronting any company that engages in wage theft.”

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

New Padilla TV ad, Peterson radio ad in SoS race

Alex Padilla, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, launched a 30-second television ad Thursday highlighting his personal background and legislative track record.

Padilla, a state senator from Pacoima, doesn’t mention his Republican rival, Pete Peterson, at all in the ad.

The ad is running on cable channels in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles media markets, said Rose Kapolczynski, Padilla’s campaign consultant. “We’ll be adding in broadcast a little bit later, and we’ll be on now through the election.”

She wouldn’t say how much the campaign is spending to air the ad, but said it’s not as much as usual.

“If we had all of the statewide races heavily on the air, we’d be paying a premium for every spot,” she said. “But most of the statewide candidates are not heavily advertising, so for a down-ballot race like ours, we’re getting more bang for the buck.”

Peterson hasn’t aired television ads, but has a new one-minute radio ad that urges voters to look beyond party labels, underscores that Peterson sees the job as nonpartisan, and touting his newspaper endorsements.

Campaign finance reports show Padilla had about $410,000 cash on hand but about $4,600 in debt as of Sept. 30, but it seems he has collected at least $342,000 in new contributions since then. Peterson basically was in the red as of Sept. 30 – $52,500 cash on hand but $81,100 in debt – and has raised only about $46,000 in major contributions since.

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Secretary of State | No Comments »

Nehring ad: Newsom’s policies encourage addiction

Ron Nehring, the Republican challenger to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, has launched his first video ad, claiming Newsom’s policies will lead to more drug addiction.

Nehring spokeswoman Nyna Armstrong said the ad will run online only, at least for now. “Then, we’ll decide what our ad buy will be based on the response that we get.”

Newsom campaign spokesman Sean Clegg seemed angry that a reporter had contacted him seeking comment.

“This is not an ad,” he replied by email. “This is a video produced to hoodwink journalists into writing that he has an ad. There is no real TV buy. If I send you the video my eight-year-old son made will you post that too?”

Nehring’s ad features a series of women speaking to the camera. “In America, one baby is born addicted to drugs every hour. More lives destroyed. If Gavin Newsom gets his way, drug abuse in California will skyrocket. More women addicted to drugs.”

“These are our daughters. Mothers. Sisters. Friends,” it continues. “You can’t be pro-woman, and be pro-more women addicted to drugs. There’s nothing Democratic. Nothing progressive. About addiction.”

Yet Nehring’s ad never mentions how Newsom’s policies would further drug addiction.

Newsom last year was tapped to head the American Civil Liberties Union’s panel studying marijuana legalization in California, with an eye toward drafting a measure for 2016′s presidential-year ballot. He said at the time, and has reiterated since, that he can’t support a status quo of high prison and police costs associated with marijuana enforcement that disproportionately affects minority communities. He recently said the same on KQED’s “Forum” radio show, saying he favors taxing and regulating marijuana to keep it out of children’s hands.

The jury is still out on whether recent recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington state have led to increased use or abuse, with organizations and agencies on both side offering conflicting reports.

Nehring, a former state GOP chairman from El Cajon, offered a 2010 RAND Corp. study to bolster his claim that “drug abuse in California will skyrocket;” the study actually projected “consumption will increase, but it is unclear how much.”

Nehring issued a statement saying California faces big challenges with poverty, unemployment and failing schools, and “we don’t solve them by swinging wide open the doors for more drug abuse and dependency. That’s a distraction that takes our state in exactly the wrong direction.”

Nehring said he supports reforming drug policy by focusing on treatment instead of imprisonment, as the Project SAM organization advocates. “Gavin Newsom will claim that there are only two choices: the status quo or his legalization idea. Yet, there is a third and better way that puts the emphasis on treatment while avoiding creating the conditions that will lead to skyrocketing addiction in California.”

Newsom differs from several prominent fellow Democrats such as Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who oppose legalization. Attorney General Kamala Harris has said California should wait and learn from Colorado and Washington, while her Republican challenger, Ron Gold, is more forthright in his support of legalization.

Posted on Monday, October 20th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, marijuana | No Comments »

Rounding up the AD16 and AD15 drama

There are all kinds of drama popping up in the East Bay’s hottest Assembly races.

In the 16th Assembly District, it’s a tale of dueling endorsements. Steve Glazer, the Orinda Democrat and former Jerry Brown political advisor who lost in June’s primary, essentially endorsed Republican Catharine Baker in a Facebook post Wednesday.

Nobody thought there was any love lost between Glazer and the Democrat in this general-election race, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, given the scorched-earth campaigns they ran against each other this past spring. But some thought Glazer might’ve kept quiet, even having already burned his bridges to the Democratic party and the unions that are its biggest backers.

Meanwhile, Sbranti on Wednesday rolled out Gov. Jerry Brown’s endorsement – not a shocker, but certainly an effort to jump on the chief executive’s coattails as he coasts into a fourth term.

Over in the 15th Assembly District, Democrat Tony Thurmond of Richmond launched his first television ad Thursday, touting his accomplishments and endorsements:

But his rival, fellow Democrat Elizabeth Echols, is calling attention to the independent spending that’s being done on Thurmond’s behalf – which now tops $255,000 worth of research, polling, mailers and field expenses in the last few weeks.

“The California Independent Petroleum Association has now put $450,000 into two groups working to defeat my campaign,” Echols wrote in an email to supporters Thursday. “They are the driving force in the effort to expand fracking in California. One has to ask why they have chosen to get involved in my race, given the progressive tradition of our district. Luckily, their involvement has only motivated my supporters.”

The email went on to invite supporters to a fundraiser she’s holding October 28 at the Sierra Club’s office in Berkeley, co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, the California League of Conservation Voters, state Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner.

Thurmond has a fundraiser scheduled for this Sunday, Oct. 19 – at the Oakland Raiders-Arizona Cardinals game. A $2,500 contribution buys a luxury suite ticket, food and drinks; a $4,100 contribution gets two tickets.

Posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Assembly | 7 Comments »

CA17: FEC reports show Ro Khanna running low

Rep. Mike Honda still had almost $1 million banked for his re-election campaign at the end of September, while Democratic challenger Ro Khanna was almost out of money, new Federal Election Commission reports show.

Honda, D-San Jose, reported raising $412,167.16 and spending $450,861.74 in this year’s third quarter, and had $964,638.14 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with no outstanding debt.

Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont, reported raising $323,291.72 and spending $972,139.27; he had $218,106.35 cash on hand as of Sept. 30, but with $140,980.31 in outstanding debt.

This is a tremendous turnaround from the campaign’s early days. Khanna had entered this race with a huge bankroll because he’d raised a record-setting $1.2 million in the final quarter of 2011, when people thought he would run to succeed Rep. Pete Stark in the 15th District. When Stark didn’t retire, Khanna pivoted instead to this 17th District race, and outraised Honda for the rest of 2013.

But Honda has outraised Khanna in the first three quarters of 2014, while Khanna spent most of his campaign’s fortune before the primary – in which he finished 20 points behind Honda.

Honda’s campaign said the new report shows Khanna’s campaign lacks enough money to meet its payroll and rent.

“With less than 20 days to go until Election Day, Ro Khanna is 15 points down and in the position of deciding whether to spend his little remaining cash on his large staff or on continued attacks on Congressman Honda,” Honda campaign manager Doug Greven said in a news release Thursday. “Our campaign has nearly $1 million in cash, $900,000 more than Khanna, and we are just now starting to spend the majority of our resources when voters are paying the most attention to the election.”

Honda’s internal poll showed him 15 points ahead; Khanna’s poll showed a dead heat, and spokesman Tyler Law said that’s helping raise new money.

“The fact that the race is now a dead heat is also helping our final push to Election Day, both in terms of grassroots enthusiasm and financing,” Law said Thursday morning. “In fact, in the three days since we released our poll, we’ve raised nearly $55,000. We expect that kind of support will continue in the final weeks of this race.

Law noted 70 percent of Khanna’s third-quarter contributions came from Northern California, while only 41 percent of Honda’s did.

“With recent polls confirming this race is wide-open and the momentum is on our side, it’s clear that our early investments in an aggressive mail program and focus on building a state-of-the-art grassroots organization are paying dividends,” Law added. “As we’ve said all along, our team will have the resources needed to win in November. Just as importantly, we did it without taking a single dollar from PACs or lobbyists and have raised the vast majority from right here in the Bay Area — a stark contrast from our special-interest and Washington-funded opponent.”

But Khanna is getting external help. Californians for Innovation – a Super PAC formed in August by Khanna supporter Ash Chopra of Menlo Park, a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch – has reported spending $211,036.36 on the race this month forvoter data, mailers and postage.

Honda launched his first TV ad of the year on Sept. 29, and has had some help from the California Democratic Party to keep it on the air. Khanna, who aired a few ads before the primary, seems to be concentrating more on direct mail for his general-election advertising push.

UPDATE @ 4:58 P.M.: Click here to read the more complete story, including who’s bankrolling the pro-Khanna Super PAC.

Posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

SD10: Kuo supporters’ flier includes photo of… me

It seems supporters of Peter Kuo, the Republican candidate in the 10th State Senate District, were handing out fliers at the Fremont BART station this morning touting his stance against letting transit workers go on strike:

(Click to enlarge:)
pro-Kuo flier_1_001

I guess their enthusiasm eclipsed their good sense. See that photo in the strip across the top, second from the left? Those aren’t angry commuters – it’s me and my colleague Thomas Peele, as we completed our “Great BART Strike Race of 2013.” The photo, by Bay Area News Group photographer Karl Mondon, was lifted without permission.

“We didn’t create it – it wasn’t even our idea,” Scott Carpenter, Kuo’s communications director, said Wednesday. “There’s a group of supporters that has been volunteering from time to time… and they kind of took it upon themselves to put those out and distribute them.”

Carpenter said those volunteers were probably inspired by an email Kuo sent to his supporters last week reiterating his condemnation of the BART strikes.

“Unions are undermining the very purpose for which BART was created in 1961 – to provide a cost-effective transportation system that enables residents of the region to quickly commute to their place of employment or other desired locations,” Kuo wrote. “I pledge to fight for commuters against the power of unions. Bay Area residents cannot afford to allow BART workers from holding our communities hostage again.”

Kuo, of Santa Clara, is vying with Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, for the Senate seat about to be vacated by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, who is term-limited out.

Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate | 1 Comment »

CA17: Khanna mailer, Honda letter create buzz

Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s new mailer attacks incumbent Rep. Mike Honda as a diehard, partisan, tax-and-spend liberal – a move that Honda’s liberal supporters say calls Khanna’s own loyalties into question.

The mailer asks “Have you had enough of Mike Honda?” and cites various sources to underscore how Honda, D-San Jose, consistently votes a liberal line, including on budgetary matters.

(Click to enlarge:)
Khanna mailer p1

Khanna mailer p2

Khanna mailer p3

Khanna mailer p4

Democracy for America – a national grassroots liberal group that supports Honda and has already been criticizing Khanna since mid-2013 as “Republican lite” – blasted the mailer out to its email list Wednesday.

“As the former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, it’s obvious to me that Ro Khanna is campaigning like a Republican,” DFA founder Howard Dean wrote in that email. “Real Democrats don’t use ‘liberal’ as an epithet or attack fellow Democrats for standing up for progressive values like making sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.”

Meanwhile, Khanna’s campaign is once again accusing Honda of using taxpayer dollars to fund what basically amounts to a campaign mailing.

Much like the pre-primary “franking” complaint Khanna filed in May, Khanna’s campaign says an Oct. 3 letter that Honda’s office sent to constituents serves no real official purpose. The letter is a litany of Honda’s accomplishments – various instances of money he has brought back to the district, legislation he has cosponsored or supported, and so on.

“You can count on me to work to close the skills gap and increase the competitiveness of our workforce, and to continue to work to deliver for our district,” the letter concludes. “Thank you again for letting me serve you in Congress.”

Wonderfully, Khanna was among the constituents who received it.

(Click to enlarge:)
Honda's franked letter to Khanna

As I noted three years ago when Republican challenger Ricky Gill leveled a similar complaint against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, House members must submit their mailers to the House Franking Commission for an advisory opinion. They cannot contain personal biographical material, make direct references to an election, make statements of a partisan tone or ask for money. The House also imposes a 90-day blackout period on mass mailings prior to an election; that means Honda probably sent these letters only to parts of his constituency, or sent different letters to various segment to get around it being a “mass mailing.” (Read the full checklist here. Or if you really want to know more, click here for the full manual.)

But there are no prohibitions on stating your positions on policies or touting your record or accomplishments as an elected member of the House of Representatives.

Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA17: A closer look at Honda’s & Khanna’s polls

I’ve just posted a story about new internal polls released by Rep. Mike Honda and his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, in the 17th Congressional District: Khanna’s poll shows a dead heat, while Honda’s shows him with a 15-point lead.

Both campaigns have veteran pollsters – David Binder for Khanna, and Lake Research Partners for Honda. But any poll’s accuracy depends on the sample’s composition, and these have some interesting quirks.

Khanna’s poll respondents were 46 percent Democrats, 27 percent independents and 23 percent Republicans; Honda’s poll respondents were 46 percent Democrats, 30 percent independents and 21 percent Republicans. The district’s overall voter registration is 44 percent Democrat, 32 percent independent and 19 percent Republican, though that may not be the breakdown of the district’s likely voters.

Also, Khanna’s poll respondents were 51 percent white, 29 percent Asian and 12 percent Latino, while Honda’s poll respondents were 43 percent white, 38 percent Asian and 13 percent Latino. The U.S. Census estimates the 17th District is about 33 percent white, 52 percent Asian and 16 percent Latino.

Finally, Honda’s poll, conducted Oct. 7 through 12, indicates 21 percent of respondents already have voted by mail – that seems awfully high, given that ballots just went out Oct. 6. Only 1 percent of the respondents to Khanna’s poll, conducted Oct. 8-9, said they already had voted.

Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

Neel Kashkari’s new TV ad depicts drowning child

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari‘s new television ad uses imagery of a drowning child to highlight what he says is Gov. Jerry Brown’s “betrayal” of California public school students:

Kashkari’s campaign says the ad will start airing statewide on Tuesday.

Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari | No Comments »