Part of the Bay Area News Group

Paying to work on a political campaign? Sort of.

The Obama campaign veterans now consulting with Democratic House candidate Ro Khanna have created a stir by charging young campaign newbies $5,000 each for a chance to learn at their knee and then get a five-week, unpaid campaign job somewhere, Buzzfeed reports.

Run by (Jeremy) Bird and (Mitch) Stewart’s consulting company, 270 Strategies, the new program’s emphasis on placing paying customers in essentially volunteer roles on Democratic campaigns is atypical in the campaign training industry, and some Democrats say it sets a dangerous precedent. The firm’s first-ever “270/360 Training Intensive” program is scheduled to begin in September.

The program’s website describes a six-week program, consisting of five days of “intensive” campaign training at 270’s Chicago HQ featuring Stewart and Bird and other “architects of the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns,” followed by five weeks of volunteer work on an “an important Democratic campaign in the United States.”

Participants must pay $3,500 for the five days of training, and another $1,500 to be placed in the volunteer campaign job, though 270 Strategies said it will offer scholarships and discounts on a case-by-case basis. Applications are due next Thursday, July 31.

Asked Friday whether any of these trainees might wind up working for Khanna’s campaign to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, 270 Strategies replied it has “not yet made decisions about campaign assignments.”

Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law said “I don’t know what their plans are, but we’re definitely excited about having 170 active fellows” working unpaid campaign jobs, drawn mostly from local high schools and colleges. “Every fellow that we have has been recruited by our campaign, or has shown up at one of our campaign offices because they are ready to work for someone who will provide forward-looking leadership for the 17th District.”

Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan declined to comment Friday.

Lots more on this, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

CA17: Khanna knocks Honda on attendance record

Democratic challenger Ro Khanna took Rep. Mike Honda to task Wednesday for missing floor votes on four bills the day before, including two of which he’s a co-sponsor and a third by a fellow Bay Area member.

“The bare minimum that’s expected of anyone is showing up – but Congressman Honda isn’t even doing that,” Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law said in a news release. “On a Tuesday of all days and with only 19 work days left, it’s shocking that he would blow off four important votes, including consideration of bills that he put his name on. People across the Bay Area are working hard every day to support their families and make ends meet – they have every right to expect their Congressman to do the same. That’s why Rep. Honda should immediately disclose to his constituents where he was yesterday and what prevented him from casting votes on their behalf.”

Honda, D-San Jose, was at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills on Wednesday to greet President Barack Obama’s helicopter; the president was on his way to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at the home of real estate mogul George Marcus.

Asked about Khanna’s criticism, Honda explained he’s in the Bay Area because his daughter is scheduled to undergo back surgery Thursday; he intends to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Khanna’s campaign says Honda has missed 447 votes during his seven terms in Congress – the worst attendance record of any California Democrat, and second-worst among all House Democrats, who’ve been serving as long as him who came to Congress when he did. In 2013, he missed 59 votes, including those on restoring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the poor as well as the farm bill; he was in San Jose for a campaign fundraiser at the time.

“With a dismal attendance record, it’s no surprise that he’s been unable to deliver for his constituents,” said the release from Khanna’s campaign. “After 14 years in Congress, he has passed only one bill into law – to name a post office.”

UPDATE @ 5:32 P.M.: This just in from Honda’s campaign…

Ro,

Congressman Mike Honda has dedicated his life to his community: after serving in the Peace Corps, he worked as a high school science teacher, principal, Santa Clara County Supervisor, State Assemblyman, and now Member of Congress. Over his career, he has mentored and developed countless others with a similar desire for service. You have rightly praised his leadership on issues affecting Asian-Americans, and said that he is “an outstanding Representative for our area.”

All of this work has required personal sacrifices: time spent serving the community has often meant time away from his family. Many excellent public servants make these sacrifices, though it’s a part of the job that isn’t mentioned much. But as anyone with a family can tell you, there are times when your family must come first. Some of these moments for Congressman Honda have come during the past fourteen years: the loss of his wife of 37 years, the passing of his mother, the birth of his first grandchild, and, this week, a major surgery his daughter is undergoing. During those times, he made the decision to miss votes so he could be there for his family.

You’ve made it abundantly clear that you will do anything to get into Congress. But I hope that you will at least refrain from attacking Congressman Honda for being with his family during their time of need.

Sincerely,

Vivek Kembaiyan
Communications Director
Mike Honda for Congress

UPDATE @ 8 P.M.: Aaaaannd… this just in from Khanna’s campaign!

Dear Vivek,

Thank you for your letter.

We all honor Congressman Honda’s many years of service, and the sacrifices he’s made along the way. We also respect Congressman Honda’s family responsibilities, and wish his daughter a speedy recovery.

Nonetheless, Congressman Honda’s record of missing 447 votes is the second worst attendance record of any Democrat who came to Congress when he did. Surely all of Rep. Honda’s Democratic colleagues take their family responsibilities seriously as well.

In addition, it is clear that many of the missed votes took place while Congressman Honda was focusing on politics, not delivering for his constituents. One example was skipping last year’s crucial vote to restore SNAP funding because the Congressman was at a fundraiser.

All of this would be easier if Congressman Honda showed his constituents the respect of transparency and publicly released his schedule – something that we have asked for repeatedly.

While we respect Congressman Honda’s family responsibilities, we simply cannot accept your incomplete explanation of the Congressman’s lackluster attendance record at a time when Silicon Valley needs representatives who are up to the task of leading us into a new economic future.

Sincerely,

Tyler Law
Press Secretary
Ro Khanna for Congress

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

CA17: Mike Honda outraises Ro Khanna again

Rep. Mike Honda significantly outraised his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, in the year’s second quarter and has considerably more money with which to start their general-election showdown, according to Federal Election Commission reports provided by the candidates Tuesday.

Honda, D-San Jose, finished first in the June 3 primary election with 48.2 percent of the vote, while Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – finished second with 28 percent. Two Republican candidates, Vanila Singh and Joel VanLandingham, finished further back and so were eliminated.

honda.jpgA report provided by Honda’s campaign Tuesday, combined with the one filed in mid-May, show he raised $522,086.37 while spending $542,605.07 from April 1 through June 30. This left him with $1,063,355.97 cash on hand as of June 30, but he also had $7,176.83 in debts, so his unencumbered cash was $1,056,179.14.

“Following the decisive 20-point win in the primary last month, the Honda campaign continues its strong fundraising leading up to the November election,” campaign manager Doug Greven said in a news release. “Mike Honda’s network of grassroots supporters – more than 7,000 of whom have given to the campaign so far – continues to grow.”

“We are going to keep this fundraising pace going and will have the resources to win in November while our debt-ridden challenger has some serious catching up to do,” Greven said.

Ro KhannaKhanna’s report filed Tuesday, plus the one he filed in mid-May, show he raised $337,673.26 in the second quarter while spending a tremendous $1,461,930.52 – which accounts for almost half of his total spending since the campaign began. This left him with $867,672.16 cash on hand as of June 30, but he also had $239,131.92 in debts, so his unencumbered cash was $628,540.24.

“There are only two numbers that matter in this reporting period: 50 and 202,” Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan insisted in a news release. “That’s because a majority of Ro’s donations were under $50, while Rep. Honda doubled down on his 202 area code fundraising amongst Washington special interests. Understandably, the Honda campaign is eager to change the story after burning well over a million dollars and relying on desperate false attacks just to lose a majority of the vote. It’s become clearer than ever that voters will be supporting change in November, just as they did in the primary.”

That said, Honda begins the general-election race with a 20-point primary win, a big edge in money, the name recognition of seven terms in office, and the bully pulpit of incumbency. Khanna aired several television ads before the primary; Honda has yet to go on the air.

Read more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Under: campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Jeremy Bird’s Twitter account was hacked

Jeremy Bird, the rock-star Democratic political consultant who was President Obama’s national field director in 2012 before co-founding the 270 Strategies firm, apparently had his Twitter account hacked today.

Or he’s decided that peddling get-rich-quick schemes is more lucrative than political strategy.

Here’s a screen shot from just a few minutes ago:

(Click to enlarge)
Jeremy Bird hacked

Among Bird’s current clients is Ro Khanna, the former Obama Administration official who’s challenging Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District.

Posted on Friday, July 11th, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

CA17: Honda and Khanna battle for GOP votes

With two Democrats having survived the 17th Congressional District’s primary to advance to November’s general election, the battle is on for the district’s Republican hearts and minds.

Weeks after Jim Cunneen – the last Republican to represent Silicon Valley in Sacramento – endorsed Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, for an eighth term, Republican former Rep. Ernie Konnyu has now cast his lot with Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

Ernie Konnyu“I have been in touch with Ro and his staff and look forward to help unite Republican and independent voters who supported me in the western portion of the Congressional district with the thousands of voters already backing Ro Khanna,” Konnyu, 77, of San Jose, said in a statement issued Friday.

“My aim is to deliver to the House of Representatives a new bi-partisan Congressman from Silicon Valley ready to lead for jobs and greater Silicon Valley successes,” he said. “I trust that Ro will be good for America and great for Silicon Valley.”

Konnyu was a South Bay Assemblyman from 1980 to 1986, when he was elected to serve what was then the 12th Congressional District. He served only one House term, primaried out in 1988 by a more socially moderate Republican, Tom Campbell.

Honda finished first in last month’s primary with 48 percent of the vote, and Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – finished second with 28 percent. Republican Vanila Singh of Fremont got 17 percent and Joel VanLandingham of San Jose got 7 percent, and so they were eliminated.

Only 19 percent of the district’s voters are Republican while 44 percent are Democrats and 32 percent state no party preference, but that GOP fifth of the electorate could be a crucial bloc if either campaign can mobilize it. While many had assumed Republicans might favor Khanna – generally seen as being a smidgen to the right of the ultra-liberal Honda, or at least, more attuned to the tech sector’s needs – a poll in May found 19 percent of GOP voters favored Honda while 18 percent favored Khanna.

Singh sent a Fourth-of-July email to her supporters Friday saying that in recent weeks she has been “reaching out to voters, volunteers, and donors to keep this exciting and impressive movement that we have begun in motion! I am humbled by the endless amounts of phone calls I have been receiving both locally and nationally. This proves that we have laid the organizational foundation that will endure for those who share these ideals.”

“As we celebrate our independence today, I hope you can join me in preserving their vision by continuing to fight for our beloved country,” Singh wrote. “These next couple months are just the beginning of an inspirational movement and it is imperative that we keep a presence at this very pivotal time in our nation. I want you to remember that these campaigns are about the people – make sure your voice is loud this November!”

The message, however, made no mention of an endorsement.

Honda and Khanna appear to be equally matched in campaign money to spend from now to November. You can bet that some of that money will be spent wooing the Singh and VanLandingham voters who are now up for grabs.

Posted on Saturday, July 5th, 2014
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

CA17: Cunneen urges GOPers to vote for Honda

The last Republican to represent Silicon Valley in Sacramento has endorsed Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in his bid for an eighth term, and is calling for other Republicans to do the same.

Jim Cunneen, a former Assemblyman from San Jose whom Honda defeated in 2000 to win his first House term, said he’s proud to support Honda over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

Jim Cunneen“I’ve admired Mike for as long as I’ve known him,” Cunneen said in a statement issued by Honda’s campaign. “In the Assembly, we worked together on technology and education issues. Most of all, Mike’s integrity and good character have served our region well. His hard work and seniority has consistently delivered for Silicon Valley, including his bipartisan work to secure funding for the BART extension that is delivering thousands of jobs.

“As a previous supporter of Republican Vanila Singh, who is no longer in the race, I ask that other Republicans join me and switch their support to Mike Honda, who will continue working hard to represent all of us in Silicon Valley,” Cunneen said.

Cunneen served in the Assembly from 1994 to 2000; Honda served there too from 1996 to 2000. Honda defeated Cunneen in the 2000 House race 54 percent to 42 percent.

Cunneen later served as president and CEO of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and as an executive at Applied Materials and Cisco Systems. Now he’s a principal at California Strategies, a consulting, lobbying and communications firm.

Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law said “there’s a potential upside for the voters here: Jim Cunneen can now advise Rep. Honda to engage in frequent debates, something Jim demanded and the Congressman agreed to in the 2000 election.”

“Working families in the 17th district aren’t concerned by insider politics and influence peddling. If they were, Rep. Honda wouldn’t have failed to receive a majority of the vote in the primary after seven terms delivering for special interests,” Law said. “Ultimately, this demonstrates that the Congressman has become part of a political system that has to change if the people, not the insiders, are to get the representation they need and deserve.”

Unofficial results show Honda won 48.2 percent of the vote in June 3’s primary while Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont had 28 percent; two Republicans, Vanila Singh and Joel VanLandingham, were eliminated.

Though Khanna generally is considered slightly more moderate than Honda, who is among the House’s most liberal members, a poll in late May showed 19 percent of the 17th Congressional District’s Republicans supported Honda while 18 percent supported Khanna. Other local Republican elected officials who’ve endorsed the incumbent include Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Jim Davis, Santa Clara Vice Mayor Jerry Marsalli, Santa Clara Councilman Patrick Kolstad and Sunnyvale Councilwoman Tara Martin-Milius.

Yet Honda’s liberal supporters have blasted Khanna as being “Republican-lite.”

“Tonight, Silicon Valley voters decisively chose Mike Honda, the true, grassroots progressive in the race, over the billionaire-backed, Republican-lite Ro Khanna,” Democracy for America executive director Charles Chamberlain said in an election-night email. “With the registered Republicans now out of the race, Democracy for America members look forward to continuing to make clear that Mike Honda is the only progressive Democrat in this race — a job we expect to be made considerably easier as Republican-lite Ro Khanna inevitably begins making the same right-wing pitch to voters that he used to ‘win’ the support of fringe-right millionaires and billionaires.”

Local Republicans who’ve endorsed Khanna include Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, former Newark Mayor Dave Smith, former Cupertino Mayor Richard Lowenthal, former Sunnyvale Mayor Jim Roberts and Milpitas Councilwoman Debbie Giordano.

Cunneen ran in 2000 as a moderate Republican who was savvier to the tech sector’s needs, much as Khanna is running as a Democrat now. He and Honda debated a few times in the run-up to that election.

But 14 years later, as a seven-term incumbent, Honda’s campaign says he’ll debate Khanna only once.

“Congressman Honda is going to do a debate,” spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Wednesday. “It’s just been two weeks since the primary so we haven’t figured out the details yet.”

Khanna has been pressing Honda for months to meet for multiple debates. In his April 27 meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, Honda committed “to some debates” (at around 30:00):

Honda: “It’s part of democracy, I’ll be subjecting myself to it. I’m prepared to do that after June 3, there’ll be a one-on-one and we’ll have a nice vigorous exchange.
Q: “So whoever, if you make the November runoff – I’m asking right now – and we sponsor a debate for our endorsement meeting between the two runoffs, you will accept?
Honda: “We can sit down and talk about it. I’m not going to say yes right now, but…”
Q: “Why not?
Honda: I think it’s, it could be premature, but I can do that, I can sit down and talk, you or whomever from the editorial board.
Q: “But you’re not going to commit at this point.”
Honda: “At this time, I will commit to some debates.”

And at the only pre-primary event at which the candidates shared a stage – a League of Women Voters forum May 3 in Fremont – Honda said he would debate Khanna after the primary:

Q: “Are you going to agree to any other debates in the rest of the campaign, in the general?”
Honda: “I think that, that makes sense because it would be one-on-one.”
Q: “So you would expect after june 3 to have more…”
Honda: “…I expect to do that.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

CA17: Honda and Khanna take their victory laps

Rep. Mike Honda’s 22-percentage-point lead over insurgent Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in Tuesday’s 17th Congressional District primary has both the party’s establishment and its liberal wing crowing with delight.

honda.jpgDemocratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel issued a statement praising Honda, D-San Jose, on his “decisive win” and calling him “the ideal leader for the Bay Area” with “an unparalleled record of delivering results in education, innovation and helping to rebuild the middle class.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the liberal grassroots group Democracy for America, used sharper terms, calling Honda “the true grassroots progressive in the race, over the billionaire-backed, Republican-lite Ro Khanna.”

“With the registered Republicans now out of the race, Democracy for America members look forward to continuing to make clear that Mike Honda is the only progressive Democrat in this race — a job we expect to be made considerably easier as Republican-lite Ro Khanna inevitably begins making the same right-wing pitch to voters that he used to ‘win’ the support of fringe-right millionaires and billionaires,” Chamberlain said.

And the Progressive Change Campaign Committee counts Honda among victories in what it “is calling ‘Progressive Super Tuesday’ because ‘Elizabeth Warren wing’ Democrats across the country won their races against Corporate Democrats.”

As I wrote Tuesday night, Honda’s victory margin gives him some room to breathe as he heads for his November showdown with Khanna. They’re about equally matched in money, and Honda – who already has the name recognition that comes with being a seven-term incumbent – has not yet even started advertising on television.

But Khanna – who came out swinging Tuesday night by challenging Honda to swear off negative campaigning, shun independent expenditures and meet for five debates – says he has five months to play catch-up. His campaign issued a lengthy memo Wednesday from consultant Jeremy Bird – who was national field director of President Obama’s re-election camoaign – explaining why Khanna is “in a strong position” looking ahead to November.

Ro KhannaThe memo notes that Khanna has moved from 5 percent in the polls to his 27 percent showing on Tuesday, even with three other candidates in the field, while Honda dropped from 57 percent in his own poll to 49 percent Tuesday. “And any time an incumbent falls below 50% – especially one who started with as strong name ID as Honda – that suggests a highly vulnerable candidate,” Bird wrote.

November will offer a larger, more moderate electorate, the memo says.

“Honda’s best performing group (strong partisan Democrats) is already accounted for in the primary vote,” Bird wrote. “There is no more natural constituency for Rep. Honda to reach out to. Rep. Honda’s worst performing groups, independent Democrats, DTS and Republican voters, make up the vast majority of the up-for-grabs vote pool. He has to win votes from groups outside his core appeal. This will be a formidable challenge because his vote share over the primary shrunk, especially with these groups, while Ro Khanna’s grew.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

CA17: Candidates decry last-minute mailers

Some last-minute mailers are arriving in the 17th Congressional District, and they’re not pretty.

Here’s one of the mailers on which I first reported Thursday, sent by the union-funded Working for Us PAC as an independent expenditure opposing Democrat Ro Khanna in order to benefit Rep. Mike Honda:

Click to enlarge:
PAC mailer  1

PAC mailer 2

Khanna sees a racial dimension to this.

“I have dedicated my life with my work at Commerce, on NUMMI, and book on American manufacturing to figure out how to bring jobs back to our community and country,” Khanna said in an email Saturday morning. “To imply I want to ‘outsource’ jobs is subtly playing on stereotypes about Indian Americans. Not only is it not true, but it’s appealing to the worst kind of politics.”

Honda spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said he would stick with the statement he issued Thursday, when I broke the story about the PAC’s spending: “We had nothing to do with this independent expenditure and aren’t going to be distracted by what other campaigns or groups are doing. Our campaign is focused on getting out the vote for Mike Honda on Tuesday and making sure that voters know about Mike’s record of delivering for the middle class families of Silicon Valley.”

[Ed.note: See update below.]

Also, here’s a mailer that Republican Vanila Singh has sent out attacking Republican Joel VanLandingham:

Singh mailer

Singh mailer2

The mailer echoes accusations that Singh and others have been making that VanLandingham is a straw-man candidate brought into the race by Khanna supporters to dilute the GOP vote and boost Khanna’s chances of finishing in this primary’s top two with Honda, D-San Jose.

VanLandingham in an email Saturday morning said it looks like Singh “is not only a candidate but a comedian” and that he and his wife “got a huge laugh” from the mailer.

“To claim I am a ‘fake Republican’ is completely ridiculous and A BOLD FACED LIE. I am amazed at the amount of money she is spending, it only shows that the Party is pulling her strings and will continue to if she gets elected,” he said. “Here is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I have been a registered Republican for over 25 years. Versus Vanila Singh who registered as a Republican in Dec 2013. She has NO voting record and within the same week of registering to be a Republican, she pulls papers and files to run for office, a week later she magically raises $150,000. I think the people of District 17 are an intelligent and knowledgeable people, who could see through her smoke, mirrors and misdirection.”

“If both parties are campaigning against me, then I guess I am doing something right, it’s time 4 change,” VanLandingham added. “In a final note, I forgive, release and bless Vanila Singh for spreading lies and gossip about me and I pray that God forgives her as well.”

UPDATE @ 1:17 P.M. SUNDAY: Four Indo-American community leaders who support and have contributed to Ro Khanna’s campaign have written a letter to Honda asking him to repudiate the Working for Us PAC’s mailer:

Dear Congressman Honda,
I am appalled to see the campaign mailer that was sent out to voters in the 17th district by the Working for Us Political Action Committee. On the front page, it has a picture of Ro Khanna – an Indian American. In large red letters it reads: “DON’T LET RO KHANNA OUTSOURCE OUR JOBS” and “SENDING JOBS OVERSEAS. RO KHANNA”. This is the crudest form of racially coded language.

The intentional association of an Indian American and outsourcing to gin up fear and hatred is deplorable and unacceptable – especially in the heart of Silicon Valley. It is sad to see it coming in support of your campaign Congressman; you and your family suffered much from racial hatred during the Second World War.

I implore you to disassociate yourself from such dirty tricks. These tactics should have no place in the political discourse in this meritocratic district where Indian Americans have contributed so much.

Respectfully,
Kanwal Rekhi, co-founder, The Indus Entrepreneurs
Anil Godwhani, co-founder, India Community Center
Kamil Hasan, co-founder, India Community Center
Talat Hasan, co-founder, India Community Center

Posted on Saturday, May 31st, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 19 Comments »

CA17: Candidates hit the streets to GOTV

The 17th Congressional District‘s candidates are preparing for a busy weekend of getting out the vote.

Democrat Ro Khanna plans a Milpitas rally and canvass kick-off at 9 a.m. Saturday at 1297 E. Calaveras Blvd., featuring Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, Vice Mayor Althea Polanski, and Councilwoman Carmen Montano. Then he’ll do a “Students for Ro” canvass kick-off at noon at 3200 Coronado Dr. in Santa Clara; an “Indo-Americans for Ro” canvass kick-off at 3 p.m. at 43255 Mission Blvd., Suite 101 in Fremont; and a phone-bank with local volunteers at 4:30 p.m. at 20111 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 130 in Cupertino.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, will hold a rally, canvass kick-off and phone bank at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at his campaign’s Cupertino office, 10601 S. De Anza Blvd., unit 106.

And as previously reported here, Republican Vanila Singh will host a rally at 11 a.m. Saturday at her campaign’s headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd., Suite 215 in Milpitas, along with other Republicans including gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, lieutenant governor candidate Ron Nehring and 10th State Senate District candidate Peter Kuo.

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

CA17: Labor PAC boosts Singh to benefit Honda

A national, union-funded political action committee is paying for two mailers, one attacking Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna and the other supporting Republican Vanila Singh, both in order to help Rep. Mike Honda.

The Working for Us PAC certainly doesn’t want to see Singh win, but rather hopes that giving Singh a boost among the 17th Congressional District’s Republicans could cost Khanna votes. The goal is at least to give Honda a more comfortable victory margin in next week’s primary election, and at most to propel Singh past Khanna to give Honda an easier contest in November.

The PAC on Thursday filed an electronic notice with the Federal Election Commission announcing it was spending $45,113.69 on direct mail opposing Khanna and $21,425.75 on direct mail supporting Singh.

Click to enlarge:
Labor mailer for Singh_1

Labor mailer for Singh_2

Note the careful wording – “Vanila Singh: The Right Choice for Republicans.”

The Working for Us PAC has been funded in recent years by labor unions including the United Auto Workers; Service Employees International Union; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and United Food and Commercial Workers. The PAC’s president is veteran strategist Steve Rosenthal, the founder and former CEO of America Coming Together – a labor-funded, national voter mobilization group – and former political director of the AFL-CIO.

“Our primary goal here is to try to ensure the re-election of Mike Honda … who has fought every day of his career to improve the lives of working people,” Rosenthal said Thursday.

“We wanted to make sure Republicans know who the real Republican is,” he said of the pro-Singh mailer, claiming Singh’s and Khanna’s platforms aren’t so far apart.

In reality, this might be more of a headache for Honda than anyone else. Given last week’s poll numbers, it seems unlikely this mailer or anything else will get Singh into the top two – and if it doesn’t change the primary’s outcome, all it’s likely to do is provide Khanna a new talking point against Honda.

“Congressman Honda’s close supporters and Vanila Singh have formed an alliance,” Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan said Thursday. “This is a desperate move by people who claim to be progressive champions, but spend money propping up a Republican candidate. This is the worst type of old style politics and Congressman Honda should immediately denounce his close supporters who are engaging in this behavior.”

PACs making independent expenditures like this are forbidden by law from coordinating with any candidate’s campaign.

“We had nothing to do with this independent expenditure and aren’t going to be distracted by what other campaigns or groups are doing,” Honda spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Thursday. “Our campaign is focused on getting out the vote for Mike Honda on Tuesday and making sure that voters know about Mike’s record of delivering for the middle class families of Silicon Valley.”

But Singh campaign manager Matt Shupe said “if a PAC would like to tell Republican voters that Vanila Singh is the real Republican in the race, then we agree with that message and have been working for months by contacting tens of thousands of voters to inform them of the same thing.”

Khanna asked Honda in January to join him in signing a “People’s Pledge” to shun any independent expenditure committee or super PAC support in this race; Honda, who as an incumbent stood to lose more potential support by signing such a pledge, refused. The Working for Us PAC’s spending is the first independent expenditure in this race.

Joel VanLandingham, the other Republican in the race, called the PAC’s action “extremely disturbing.”

“The fact that they’re doing that with her (Singh) proves she’s an extremely soft target,” said VanLandingham, who has refused to accept contributions for his campaign. “This is the very, very reason I’ve been pushing the no-money campaign.”

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 23 Comments »