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.


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: 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.


CA17: Ron Cohen lays out conservative platform

Ron Cohen, the Fremont Republican who recently joined the race to unseat Rep. Mike Honda next year, has fleshed out his policy positions on his campaign’s new website – and some of his staunch conservative views might be a hard sell in a district that’s only 19 percent Republican.

Ron CohenCohen, a 56-year-old accountant, said last week that if elected he would aim to join the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus – the Tea Party-dominated group of about three dozen Republicans that ousted former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and foiled Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, from succeeding him.

Judging from his website, Cohen’s political views are similar to those of libertarian-leaning Republicans such as former presidential candidate Texas Congressman Ron Paul. The “detailed analysis” part of his site says some parts are “a copy from Rand Paul’s website and others, with whom I agree.”

Cohen says the most important issue is unsustainable federal spending and debt. “This is an existential threat to the nation.”

On immigration, “we must secure our borders, use E-Verify, have a Temporary Workers Program, tighten visitor and student visas, and have every illegal alien case reviewed by a judge to determine their future status,” Cohen wrote. “We are a compassionate nation and illegal immigrants must follow our laws. Pass Kate’s Law and end Sanctuary Cities.”

Regarding foreign policy and defense, Cohen said the United States must “avoid foreign entanglements” – particularly in the Middle East, where “our ‘friends’ soon become our enemies.”

“In light of the Paris attacks, close our borders to anyone suspected of association with ISIS or their beliefs, and search for ‘sleeper cells,’” Cohen writes. “This type of ‘profiling’ is legal in times of war. I would have Congress formally ‘declare war’ on ISIS, as I believe the Constitution requires.”

Cohen calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act – “It’s bound to fail, anyway. Start again with a free-market solution.” He’s anti-abortion but says “the federal government has no business being in your doctor’s office… I would fund birth control and education to reduce the demand for abortions… I will not support any federal funding of abortions.”

He calls for eliminating the Department of Education, auditing the Federal Reserve, slashing business regulations, closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, imposing term limits on Congress, and freeing captive whales.

On gun control and gun rights, Cohen says “Americans have the right to be well-armed. More gun control laws are not the solution to school shootings. I sadly encourage more armed police and staff at schools. Pure evil must be met with force.”

And regarding low-income housing in the district, “no more of these four or five story apartment blocks that we see being built,” Cohen wrote. “Not everyone can afford to live in the district and we should not take steps to make it possible. Our highways are already clogged full.”

Even if Cohen doesn’t get many votes beyond the GOP base, that could be bad news for Ro Khanna, the Fremont Democrat now making his second bid to unseat Honda, D-San Jose. Khanna’s campaign relies on building a coalition among moderate Democrats, independents and Republicans, and any votes Cohen gets would likely come out of Khanna’s pocket.