TechNet endorses Trans Pacific Partnership

Silicon Valley’s bipartisan political action committee endorsed the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement Monday – a pact on which Rep. Mike Honda has not yet taken a final position, and which his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, opposes.

TechNet, a policy and political network of tech CEOs and senior executives, endorsed the free-trade pact Monday and urged Congress to approve it.

“The U.S. technology sector has grown into a leading force in the U.S. economy, fueled by an unparalleled commitment to innovation and an unprecedented investment in research and development,” President and CEO Linda Moore said in a news release. “The statistics are staggering: the U.S. innovation economy now supports more than 30 percent of U.S. GDP and employs more than 6.5 million Americans. It’s being driven by the incredible new technologies developed in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin, Boston, and beyond, and it’s been accelerated by international trade.”

“Yet, our nation’s ability to continue to lead in this sector is dependent on access to the fastest growing markets in the world and the uninhibited flow of data across borders,” she continued. “This agreement supports U.S. technology leadership around the globe, and will drive economic growth and job creation here at home.”

President Obama is likely to call for the TPP’s passage during his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night. But Honda, D-San Jose, has not yet taken a position on the agreement negotiated between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim trading partners, Chief of Staff Jennifer Van der Heide said Monday.

He did vote last year against the Trade Promotion Authority that allowed the Obama administration to fast-track this trade pact, calling for Congress to have a bigger role in its drafting. And he has spoken about making sure agreements like this include strong, clear and enforceable labor, environmental and human rights standards.

Khanna said Monday he would vote against the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“First, the tribunals that have been set up to adjudicate give too much power to corporations and don’t take labor, environmental and human rights stakeholders into consideration,” he said via email. “Second, there is too much of an IP and data exclusivity giveaway to pharmaceuticals that would deprive many people around the world of access to drugs.”


CA17: Five statewide officials endorse Honda

Five of California’s eight statewide constitutional officers endorsed Rep. Mike Honda on Monday for re-election over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in the 17th Congressional District.

Honda, D-San Jose, issued a news release saying he’s humbled to have the support of Attorney General Kamala Harris, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Treasurer John Chiang, Controller Betty Yee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“I share their deep passion and commitment to solving problems facing many of California’s working families,” Honda said. “They represent the very best of what our state has to offer and I look forward to continuing my work with them.”

Harris, currently the frontrunner for the U.S. Senate seat from which Barbara Boxer will retire at year’s end, said that “from improving public safety, fighting to end human trafficking, and ensuring the civil rights of all people are protected – Mike has always been there.”

Yee said “Honda has been a tireless advocate for the people of Silicon Valley: securing funding for BART expansion, boosting critical research in nanotechnology, and fighting to ensure that every child has access to quality education.”

And Torlakson called Honda “an unwavering ally to California’s students and teachers. As a former science teacher and principal, education has always been one of his top priorities. Mike is working across the aisle to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in our classroom’s, which will provide our children and country with the skills to stay competitive in this global economy.”

Among the other statewide constitutional officers, Secretary of State Alex Padilla has endorsed Khanna; Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed Khanna in 2014 but has not yet made an endorsement for 2016; and Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Honda in 2014 but has not yet made an endorsement for 2016.


CA17: Honda fires back on union’s Khanna nod

Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign shot back Friday against a construction-workers’ union that has switched its endorsement from Honda in 2014 to Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in their rematch this year.

Vedant Patel, political director for Honda’s campaign, issued a statement expressing disappointment at the decision of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Pacific Southwest Region – boasting 63,000 members in California and a few thousand more in Hawaii, New Mexico and Arizona – to endorse Khanna but allowing that “sometimes friends disagree.” Patel also touted the 98 percent lifetime rating that Honda, D-San Jose, has earned from the AFL-CIO for his consistent pro-labor stances.

honda.jpg“In this case, we could not be more proud of Congressman Honda’s ardent advocacy to protect America’s environment with his opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline – a pipeline supported by LIUNA,” Patel said, noting Honda voted thrice against the controversial pipeline, signed seven opposition letters to President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and supported a Democratic National Committee resolution against the project. Obama put the final kibosh on Keystone XL in November.

“Congressman Honda was proud to be a leader in the successful fight to oppose Keystone in order to prevent astronomical amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, polluted water and fisheries with elevated cancer rates, and exposing nearby communities to highly toxic materials,” Patel said.

Khanna also opposed the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It is unfortunate that an organization committed to advancing the rights of working class men and women would stand with someone who has never had a track record that benefits the working class,” Patel continued. “Ro Khanna has never stuck his neck out for working families. From cagey positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership, and flip flopping on key issues like Social Security benefits and pension reform, Ro has simply failed to take a real stance when it mattered.”

Patel also blasted Khanna for accepting campaign contributions from people who’ve been at odds with organized labor, who’ve advocated for privatizing Social Security, and who lead corporations that violated living wage laws.

Khanna has never advocated for privatizing Social Security, and I dinged Honda’s campaign in 2014 for misrepresenting Khanna’s stances on benefits. Khanna condemned the wage violations for which Fremont-based Electronics for Imaging was fined in 2014 and he removed CEO Guy Gecht from his endorsement list, but declined to return Gecht’s $2,600 campaign contribution as labor unions had urged.

LiUNA held a news conference Friday in San Jose to tout its endorsement of Khanna. San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco was there to announce her endorsement, too, and later issued a statement calling Khanna “a dependable advocate for middle-class families with a clear vision to move our communities forward.”


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.


CA17: Khanna & Honda spar over Trump reference

The dark specter of Donald Trump has reared its ugly, inexplicably-coiffed head in the never-ending battle between Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and two-time Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

Michael Beckendorf, Honda’s campaign manager, sent out a fundraising email Wednesday evening that name-checked the GOP presidential frontrunner.

Dear Friend,

I’ll cut to the chase:

honda.jpgMike Honda has spent his career fighting for justice and equality in Washington — and the Republicans can’t stand it. That’s why they’re aligning themselves, again, with our opponent, Ro Khanna, in attacking one of the nation’s leading progressive champions.

It’s shameful — and we can’t let Donald Trump’s Republican Party get away with [it].

Contribute $3 or more to our campaign before tomorrow’s deadline to help us fight back.

At a time when fear is rising again in American politics, we cannot afford to lose Mike Honda’s voice in Congress. Can you speak up today to support our campaign?

Khanna responded with an angry Facebook post:

Ro KhannaRep Mike Honda, is there no limit to what you will do to hold on to office? Everyone knows that I am a ‪#‎Democrat‬ inspired by my grandfather who spent years in jail under British colonialism, and have stood up against hate and racial profiling my whole life and in our community. Yet, today you sent out an email to raise money conveniently misrepresenting my party affiliation, and ignoring that I worked for President Barack Obama or that I have a record of standing up for civil rights and civil liberties. You imply that somehow I or my supporters would not stand up to hate and bigotry. That is a new low.

Once elected, I will work across the aisle to solve the issues that face our nation and be a strong voice for justice and human rights. What I will not do is engage in ad hominem, non-fact based attacks. I will not stoop to that level when dealing with either Democrats or Republicans or independents.

How about having 4-5 real debates Rep Honda instead of hiding behind your political consultants with cheap political attacks? Emails like the one below is exactly what’s wrong with politics. ‪#‎CA17‬

It’s true that some Republicans are supporting Khanna, even if only as an “anyone but Honda” vote, and that Khanna’s campaign calculus involves getting such votes – as any competent campaign would under our top-two primary system. And while plenty of Republicans are appalled by Trump’s rhetoric, there’s no denying that he has been the party’s frontrunner for all but three days since mid-July and currently is close to his all-time high, according to averages of national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

But it’s also hard to imagine any Trump supporter casting a ballot for Khanna – especially given that they could vote instead for conservative Republican Ron Cohen (in the primary, anyway). Beckendorf’s email never explicitly says Khanna is a Trumpist or a Republican, but rather implies that Trumpists or Republicans are using Khanna as a tool to unseat Honda – a sentiment that won’t sit well with the many Democrats who prefer Khanna.

“Neither the GOP nor Trump have ever, in any way whatsoever, shown any support of Khanna. Indeed, you have to embrace Trump’s method of politicking to even make such allegations,” wrote Margarita Lacabe, an Alameda County Democratic committeewoman from San Leandro who lives in a different House district but received Honda’s fundraising email.

“I know that like Pete Stark before him, Honda will not give up in his quest for re-election, but his staff should show respect for Honda’s past accomplishments by making sure he runs a dignified campaign,” wrote Lacabe, a longtime Khanna supporter.


Honda comms director Lauren Smith has died

Lauren Suzanne Smith, communications director to Rep. Mike Honda and a veteran of two other Northern California House offices, died Saturday, Dec. 26, in Washington, D.C. She was 37.

Lauren Smith“Lauren served on my staff with passion, dedication, talent and integrity,” Honda, D-San Jose, said in a statement issued Monday. “In addition to working in my office, Lauren was employed by many fine Democrats and institutions over the years, dedicating her communication talents to make the world a better place. She was a gracious person, loved by our team and will be deeply missed. May you rest in peace Lauren.”

Honda also penned an homage to Smith that was published Dec. 22 in The Hill, hinting at but not describing the dire nature of her illness.

“Lauren’s generous nature and dedication to her work means she is always ready to respond to the latest development in any issue area immediately, even late into the night or when she isn’t feeling her best. I can always count on Lauren to not only get the job done but to do it with class, perfection, and most of all, heart,” Honda wrote in that piece.

“A time-honored Team Honda tradition at celebratory times is for staff to share favorite moments involving me. I have heard from staff that Lauren’s favorite ‘Honda Moment’ is when I accidentally left her a voicemail of my full rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,’” Honda added. “She tells me that when she’s down, this voicemail always makes her smile. Lauren, perhaps that voicemail was no accident – over the last year, Team Honda and I have without a doubt fallen in love with you, your work, and your laughter.”

Smith worked with the All America PAC in Indiana during the 2006 midterm elections and then worked her way up to serve as the Democratic National Committee’s Indiana communications director during the 2008 presidential election. She served stints as a press secretary for Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; communications director for Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento; and communications director and deputy chief of staff for Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton. And after serving as a communications consultant for John Walsh’s Montana Senate campaign, she was Sen. Walsh’s deputy communications director before going to work for Honda early this year.

“She brought a real spark to my office… She was always enthusiastic,” McNerney said Monday, praising her as a confident, quick study. “There was something about Lauren that made you accept her right away.”

I spoke often with Lauren during her time in McNerney’s office, from 2011 through 2013, and again this year in Honda’s office; she was never anything less than a consummate professional as well as a good and pleasant person – a rare combination. I’ll miss her very much.

According to the tribute page her family has created, Lauren’s wish was that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in her name to the Joyful Heart Foundation.