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CA17: Watch video of Saturday’s candidate forum

Here’s video of the 17th Congressional District candidate forum held this past Saturday, May 3 in Fremont, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark and Union City; the League of Women Voters of Cupertino-Sunnyvale; and the League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara:

In case you missed it, here’s our story on the forum from Sunday’s editions. This was the first and only time that Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Democrat Ro Khanna; and Republican Joel Vanlandingham will share a stage before June 3’s primary election.

Republican candidate Vanila Singh of Fremont refused to participate; her campaign has said she won’t take part in any forum that includes Vanlandingham, whom she believes was drafted into the race by Khanna and/or his supporters in order to split the GOP vote.

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CA17: Honda & Khanna spar on taxes, truthfulness

Rep. Mike Honda this week posted to his campaign’s website a series of “concerns” his supporters purportedly have about Democratic challenger Ro Khanna, but Khanna replies the incumbent is playing it fast and loose with the facts.

honda.jpg“Democrats in the district are concerned that Ro Khanna has consistently supported tax breaks for big corporations and opposes President Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the richest two percent of the population,” Honda’s site says, citing a Salon article in which Khanna claimed the current corporate tax rate is too high as well as Mercury News and Forbes articles.

But Khanna’s site notes President Obama and many Democrats support lowering the corporate tax rate as part of comprehensive tax reform; he also said he has consistently opposed tax breaks for big corporations, while Honda has acknowledged the top 35 percent corporate tax rate is not globally competitive. Khanna continues to tout the fact that he has refused to take corporate PAC money (which Honda accepts), although Khanna has received contribution from many Silicon Valley executives.

As for personal income taxes, Khanna said he supported raising taxes on the richest but joined with President Obama in supporting extension of the Bush tax cuts for middle-class families, while Honda supported a budget that would’ve wiped out all of the tax cuts.

“Khanna also supports lowering taxes on corporations’ overseas profits, which means more outsourcing of American jobs,” Honda said on his site, citing a Mercury News article. “Khanna supports the same failed Republican policies that hurt our economy in the first place and puts corporations and the wealthy ahead of the middle class.”

Ro KhannaBut Khanna’s site replies that “President Obama supports lowering corporate taxes on overseas profits so that capital can be used here in America,” and that Honda himself seems to feel likewise. “This position is on his website so it’s puzzling that the Congressman attacks Ro for having the same position.”

And as for “the same failed Republican policies,” Khanna notes he’s the only candidate in the race with a comprehensive jobs plan, and that his book – which argues government must help manufacturing companies compete more effectively – has been praised by labor leaders such as California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. (It should be noted, however, that labor unions are staunchly supporting Honda in this race.)

More, after the jump…
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CA17: Honda won’t go to media-sponsored debate

Rep. Mike Honda will not take part in a televised debate with his 17th Congressional District rivals that would double as the San Francisco Chronicle’s pre-endorsement interview, a campaign spokesman said Monday.

honda.jpg“Congressman Mike Honda will be at the May 3 debate organized by the non-partisan, community-based League of Women Voters,” spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Monday. “This televised debate, which has been in the works for months, and which all of the CA-17 candidates have been invited to, is the only debate Congressman Honda will be participating in prior to the June 3 primary election.”

The three League of Women Voters chapters sponsoring the May 3 event in Fremont are calling it a forum, not a debate; candidates there will not have any opportunity to question or respond to each other directly.

That sits poorly with Honda’s Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, who for months has been urging Honda to take part in debates.

Khanna said he has accepted an invitation to take part in a debate hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle, KPIX-TV and KCBS radio. Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said the debate will be conducted at KPIX’s studios in San Francisco either on April 16, April 17 or April 23; the format will include opening and closing statements from the candidates as well as questions from local media panelists, voters and the candidates themselves.

“Residents of the 17th District will benefit from an open debate, moderated by members of the local media, about who is the best candidate to address the unique challenges and opportunities facing our community,” Khanna said in a statement issued Monday. “Voters are tired of old-style politics and campaigns that consist of little more than sloganeering and demagoguery. With the challenges our nation faces today, the people deserve better.”

Republican candidate Dr. Vanila Singh of Fremont, who entered the race at the start of this year, still has not yet decided whether to take part in the May 3 League of Women Voters event or the Chronicle/KPIX/KCBS event, campaign manager Scott Luginbill said Monday.

Republican candidate Joel Vanlandingham of San Jose, who entered the race earlier this month, said he intends to take part in the League of Women Voters event but has not yet been invited to the Chronicle/KPIX/KCBS event.

And Republican candidate Vinesh Singh Rathore of San Jose, who also entered the race this month, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

UPDATE @ 2:23 P.M.: Kembaiyan notes Honda is scheduled to meet with the Bay Area News Group’s editorial board in April, and campaign manager Doug Greven is talking with the Chronicle about seeking its endorsement, too.

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CA17: Candidate forum scheduled for May 3

Rep. Mike Honda will face off against his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, and perhaps three Republican candidates at a forum in early May.

Gloria Chun Hoo, president of the League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara, confirmed Tuesday night that the 17th Congressional District forum will be held from 7* to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 3 at Fremont City Hall. Chun’s league is partnering with two others – Fremont, Newark and Union City, and Cupertino-Sunnyvale – to sponsor the event.

Honda’s and Khanna’s campaign staff confirmed Tuesday night that those candidates will attend. Three Republicans in the race – Dr. Vanila Singh of Fremont, Vinesh Singh Rathore of San Jose and Joel Vanlandingham of San Jose – are invited as well, but could not immediately be reached Tuesday.

Sources said the event will follow a typical league format in which the candidates make brief opening and closing statements and take questions from the audience via a moderator, but do not directly address or attack each other.

Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont, challenged Honda in early January to commit to a series of debates; Honda’s campaign responded it was too early to commit. All three Republicans have entered the race since then.

Honda campaign manager Doug Greven said Tuesday that he and his staff had begun talks with Hoo and with the Mercury News as early as December, but felt it was premature to set a date and book a venue until the field of candidates was finalized at the close of the filing period on March 7.

UPDATE @ 9:18 P.M.: I just spoke with Marilyn Singer from the Fremont league, who said it’s possible the forum will start slightly earlier – perhaps 6:45 p.m. – depending on the number of candidates who commit to participate; they’ll firm that up as the date grows closer. Also, there will be no opening statements from the candidates – they’ll go right to the questions, and then have a chance to deliver brief closing statements.

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Special ticket deal for gun-control forum Thursday

The rhetoric could get hot at a gun-control this Thursday evening in San Francisco.

The Commonwealth Club of California is convening a panel on “Gun Laws: California and The Nation – What Should Be Done?” at 6 p.m. Thursday in its offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. (at Second) in San Francisco.

Scheduled to participate are Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who has introduced a bill to regulate ammunition sales; Benjamin Van Houten, managing attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; San Francisco Police Sgt. Kelly Dunn, who serves in her department’s Special Victims and Psychiatric Liaison units; and Calguns Foundation cofounder and chairman Gene Hoffman, with San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz as the moderator.

“Our panel will discuss the national issues and California’s role in the dialogue regarding proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, to pass stricter laws to buy and license guns and ammunition, to require gun vendors to do background checks on potential owners, and report sales so law enforcement can track guns and their owners,” the club says.

Tickets cost $20 for the general public or $12 for club members and are free for students with valid ID, but the club is offering a special deal in which anyone can get tickets at the member price: Just use the coupon ID “specialforguns” when ordering online.

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Thompson sets gun task force roster, hearing

Rep. Mike Thompson, the House Democrats’ point man on gun reform, has picked a dozen vice chairs – including another Bay Area member of Congress – for his task force and is planning a community forum next week in the North Bay.

Mike ThompsonThompson, D-Napa, was named last month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to head a task force on gun violence prevention. He’s a Vietnam combat veteran, gun owner and avid hunter.

“Our vice chairs have a wide range of expertise, come from different backgrounds representing all corners of the House Democratic Caucus, and will bring unique ideas to the table as we work to reduce and prevent gun violence while also protecting the rights of law-abiding individuals without a history of dangerous mental illness to own legitimate firearms for legitimate purposes,” Thompson said in a news release today.

Among the 12 vice chairs is Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, who survived being shot five times at close range in the 1978 assassination of her boss, Rep. Leo Ryan, on an airstrip near Jonestown, Guyana; she still carries two of the bullets in her body. Since then she has been a consistent advocate of gun control, and carried assault weapons ban legislation in California twenty years ago. She supports banning military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, as well as closing loopholes in the background-check process.

Speier last month had noted California’s gun controls are among the nation’s strictest and should be a model for federal law – or perhaps exceeded.

“We’re way ahead of the curve,”’ she said, “but it still is not enough.”

The other 11 vice chairs will be Reps. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., who succeeded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was severely wounded in an assassination attempt; John Dingell, D-Mich., a hunter who has carried background-check legislation before; Bill Enyart, D-Ill., the retired Major General of the Illinois National Guard; Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., who represents Newtown, Conn.; Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., who created a “Groceries for Guns” buyback program in Philadelphia; Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., whose husband was murdered and son critically wounded in a 1993 mass shooting ojn the Long Island Railroad; Grace Napolitano, D-Norwalk, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus; Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., who represented Aurora, Colo., during the July 2012 movie-theater mass shooting; David Price, D-N.C., the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which holds the pursestrings for first responders; Bobby Scott, D-Va., who has been active in juvenile justice issues; and Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the Congressional Sportsman Caucus.

The task force will hold meetings and hearings over the next month to identify the best policies to reduce and prevent gun violence, and will release a comprehensive set of proposals in early February.

Thompson also has announced he’ll hold a forum from 7 to 8:30 p.m. next Wednesday, Jan. 9 at Vallejo City Hall, 555 Santa Clara St., to bring together law enforcement, school and local elected officials; mental health experts; community members and other stakeholders for a discussion on how to reduce and prevent gun violence.