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CA17: Tammy Duckworth coming to Honda’s aid

War hero Rep. Tammy Duckworth will visit Silicon Valley on Friday to do a veteran’s roundtable and some phone-banking for Rep. Mike Honda’s re-election campaign.

Tammy DuckworthHonda, D-San Jose, and Duckworth, D-Ill., have worked together since 2006 when Honda supported her first race for Congress. Then and in 2012, Honda attended events in her district and helped her raise funds nationwide; now she’s returning the favor, as Honda faces challenges from fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, Republican Vanila Singh and Republican Joel Vanlandingham.

The two House members will hold a one-hour roundtable with local veterans at 4 p.m. Friday in Honda’s campaign headquarters, in the SEIU building at 2302 Zanker Road in San Jose; after that, Duckworth will join campaign volunteers to work the phones for an hour.

Duckworth was a National Guard captain serving in Iraq in 2004 when the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting was hit by an rocket-propelled grenade; she lost both legs and partial use of her right arm. She has since served as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and as an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; she remains a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard, and now serves on the House Armed Services and the Government & Oversight committees.

Honda’s campaign said he has worked to increase funding for veterans’ health care services and for college scholarships for returning veterans, including $2.8 million in grants for homeless and at-risk veterans in his district that he helped secure last year. He also played a role in seeking compensation and recognition for Filipino-American veterans who served in World War II.

Khanna is keeping up his breakneck pace this week by speaking to Santa Clara University law students on Wednesday; serving as a panelist at the Latinos Information Technology and Science Association conference in Redwood City and then canvassing in Sunnyvale on Thursday; giving an inaugural address and taking part in a panel discussion at the Indian Institute of Management conference at Google in Mountain View before doing a Sunnyvale neighborhood meet-and-greet Saturday; and then doing neighborhood meet-and-greets in Sunnyvale and Cupertino on Sunday.

And, as previously reported here, Singh is holding a happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at C&J’s Sports Bar, 1550 Lafayette St. in Santa Clara, and then will hold a campaign kickoff at 10 a.m. Saturday at her headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd. Suite 215, in Milpitas.

Posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House, veterans | 6 Comments »

CA17: Honda’s busy schedule of local events

With six weeks to go before June’s primary election, Rep. Mike Honda is keeping his profile high in his 17th Congressional District with a busy schedule of official events.

Honda, D-San Jose, is making the best of his seven-term incumbent bully pulpit as challengers Ro Khanna and Vanila Singh step up the pace of their campaigns.

honda.jpgOn Tuesday evening, Honda will visit the Bill Wilson Center in San Jose to talk with several young homeless people with mental-health issues who are part of the center’s Transition Age Youth program. “It is crucial that we understand the needs and challenges facing homeless youth here in Silicon Valley,” he said in a news release. “We live in an area of great opportunity, and we are obligated to ensure that opportunity is available for all residents of Silicon Valley.”

On Wednesday, Honda will give the keynote address at the Housing Trust Silicon Valley‘s investor briefing in Santa Clara, speaking to more than 400 business leaders, Housing Trust partners, housing industry professionals, community partners, and the general public about the importance of affordable housing for businesses, workers and low-income residents.

On Thursday morning, Honda will join local elected officials, community leaders and public health officials in San Jose to announce the launch of a bus ad campaign urging Chinese- and Vietnamese-American residents to get tested for hepatitis B. The Asian American Pacific Islander community accounts for over half of all chronic hepatitis B cases, and half of the deaths related to hepatitis B; Honda will discuss how Congress is working to address and eradicate hepatitis, including the work of the bipartisan Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, which he founded and co-chairs.

Last week, Honda held a news conference in San Jose to announce his introduction of H.R. 4460, the Freedom of Faith Act, which would make permanent the immigrant provision for religious workers who are non-ministers; the current religious workers program will expire in 2015. “For over two decades, Congress has reauthorized this program time and time again,” he said. “It’s time we do what’s right for our communities of faith and make permanent this program that allows workers who lead worship, officiate events, and offer pastoral care, to receive temporary visas like ministers and faith leaders do.”

Honda also last week gave the opening address at the San Francisco Bay Area Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Nanotechnology Council’s 10th Anniversary symposium in Santa Clara, discussing the continuing importance of nanotech in our economy, as well as his role in enacting the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. The law, of which Honda was an original co-sponsor, first authorized $4 billion in federal spending over 4 years for the National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2003.

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | No Comments »

CA17: Singh & Khanna campaigns step it up

Watch for Republican candidate Vanila Singh to step up her 17th Congressional District campaign significantly in the next few weeks.

Vanila SinghI had coffee today with Matt Shupe, who took over as Singh’s campaign manager at the start of this month. Shupe formerly was executive director of the San Francisco Republican Party, working for county chairwoman and state GOP Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon; before that, he served three months as deputy manager of Andy Vidak’s successful state Senate campaign in early 2013 and has run or helped build several other campaigns.

Shupe, 29, brings a network of contacts from those campaigns and from his leadership roles with the California College Republicans that he says “can rapidly accelerate the growth of an operation,” he said. That’s what he intends to do for Singh – a speedy ramp-up using volunteers from all over the Bay Area to bolster Singh’s bid to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

It’s not as if they have much else to do. Shupe said Bay Area Republicans really only have two competitive races – this one, and Dublin attorney Catharine Baker’s run against three Democrats in the 16th Assembly District. “So I’m able to suck up a lot of the talent,” he said, adding his volunteer roster keeps growing. “Right now I’d say our list is in the hundreds.”

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Ro Khanna and his staff and volunteers will celebrate the opening of his campaign’s Cupertino field office from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at 20111 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 130. The campaign’s headquarters is in Fremont, but this office will be a hub for grassroots efforts in Cupertino and Sunnyvale. Cupertino council members Orrin Mahoney and Rod Sinks are expected to attend the event.

Khanna’s staff is touting his social media progress – now at 10,398 Facebook likes and 1,778 Twitter followers, compared to Honda’s 4,182 likes and 785 Twitter followers or Singh’s 1,064 Facebook likes and 280 Twitter followers. But social media only go so far, and Khanna’s campaign is maintaining a full schedule of neighborhood canvasses and phone banks.

Singh is holding a happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Thursday, April 24 at C&J’s Sports Bar, 1550 Lafayette St. in Santa Clara, and then will hold a campaign kickoff at 10 a.m. Saturday at her headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd. Suite 215, in Milpitas.

Shupe said he has seen a hunger from the 17th District’s GOP voters: “You can tell that Republicans in this district have never really been campaigned to in many years.”

And Singh has the resources to sate that hunger, he said, having raised more money than any other Republican candidate in the Bay Area; she had about $300,000 cash on hand at the start of this month.

“She’s definitely a pragmatic, reasonable, non-Tea-Party candidate, so we believe she can connect uniquely to the district,” he said. “This is voter contact, get-out-the-vote campaigning from here to Election Day.”

Shupe acknowledged it’s an uphill battle in a district that’s registered 44 percent Democrat, 19 percent Republican and 32 percent nonpartisan. But a poll conducted in February by Honda’s liberal allies had found Singh – who had entered the race at the end of December – already a few points ahead of Khanna, almost certainly by dint of being the only Republican in the field at the time.

That’s a strong base on which to build, Shupe said, and while the goal is to win, the journey might be as important as the destination if Singh can make significant inroads within the South Bay Indo-American community of which she’s a lifelong member. “It’s definitely party building,” Shupe said.

Singh so far has refused to take part in any candidate forums or debates. Shupe said she won’t participate in any event that doesn’t include Honda or that does include the other Republican candidate, Joel Vanlandingham, whom she believes was recruited into the race by Khanna supporters in order to split the GOP vote. “He’s really degrading the election, I think.”

Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 35 Comments »

CA17: Khanna & Honda argue over campaign $$$

Rep. Mike Honda and Democratic challenger Ro Khanna got into another dustup over each other’s campaign contributions Wednesday, while a new report filed with the Federal Election Commission shows Republican challenger Vanila Singh gave her campaign a hefty loan.

PG&EKhanna says Honda, D-San Jose, should give back all the money he has ever received from PG&E’s political action committee because the energy utility now has been indicted on criminal charges related to 2010’s devastating gas explosion in San Bruno. But Honda’s campaign said Khanna should walk his talk by refunding money to contributors who say he pulled a bait-and-switch on them.

Honda raised $679,470.91 in the first quarter, and had $1,083,690.92 cash on hand and $22,472.21 in debts as of March 31. Khanna raised $464,220, and had $1,946,871.19 cash on hand and $93,613.53 in debts. As previously reported here, this is the first quarter in which Honda has outraised Khanna in this 17th Congressional District race.

Higher percentages of Khanna’s contributions came from California, and from Northern California in particular, than those of Honda’s, though that’s not surprising given Honda’s seven terms in Congress.

Singh raised $138,860 and loaned her campaign $74,000 in the first quarter, and as of March 31 had $300,422 cash on hand and $79,000 in debts including that loan. Among contributions she received was $2,000 each from the campaigns of Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, and $1,000 from the campaign of Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md. Sessions – former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee – co-hosted Singh’s meet-and-greet with Republican doctors at last month’s state GOP convention; Burgess and Harris are doctors.

Republican Joel Vanlandingham has said he doesn’t plan to accept contributions.

Khanna issued a news release Wednesday announcing he sent a letter to Honda that notes Honda has accepted $28,000 from the PG&E PAC during his 14 years in Congress, including $6,500 in the past two cycles since the San Bruno blast; the latest contribution was $1,000 on March 21.

“In light of last week’s federal criminal indictment, I am asking you to return the tens of thousands of dollars in PAC contributions you have received from PG&E,” Khanna wrote, also urging Honda to join him in demanding that PG&E reveal which people within the company were responsible for the actions and decisions leading to the crimes alleged in the indictment. “I believe such steps are necessary to demonstrate to your constituents that you put the rights and safety of California consumers ahead of corporate PAC contributions.”

PG&E regularly gives money to House members on both sides of the aisle. In fact, the only Bay Area member who seems not to have received a contribution from the company’s PAC in this cycle is Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, in whose district the San Bruno blast occurred and who has been hard on the company ever since.

“Congressman Honda has confidence in the U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case against PG&E, and expects that justice will be served,” Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Wednesday. “If Ro Khanna wants to talk about refunds, he can start by explaining why he isn’t refunding the thousands in contributions being demanded by his own donors.”

Indeed, a few people who contributed to Khanna’s campaign in late 2011 – when everyone thought he would run to succeed then-Rep. Pete Stark in the 15th District – asked for their money back this January, saying they don’t want it spent against Honda. Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan on Jan. 14 said it would be “impractical” to return contributions made more than two years earlier. But that’s exactly what Khanna’s campaign had done just a day earlier, his FEC report shows: The campaign on Jan. 13 refunded $2,500 to Carl Page of Palo Alto, who had contributed that amount in November 2011.

Khanna spokesman Tyler Law replied, “None of Ro’s past or current contributors is under federal criminal indictment for putting the public safety at risk.”

Meanwhile, amid all the national buzz about Khanna’s well-funded Democratic insurgent campaign, the latest FEC report gives a clearer picture of how that big bankroll is being spent. Details, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

CA17: Khanna’s second TV ad touts jobs plan

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna launched his second television ad Monday, highlighting the seven-point jobs plan he rolled out in February.

A news release said the ad “will begin airing widely” throughout the 17th Congressional District; spokesman Tyler Law wouldn’t specify the nature, duration or cost of the ad buy, except to say it’s “significant and open-ended.”

“Ro has centered his campaign on forward-looking ideas to grow the economy and create good paying jobs for families here in the 17th district,” campaign manager Leah Cowan said in the news release. “That’s why he is the only candidate to introduce a comprehensive jobs plan that recognizes the importance of improving education to transform the economy. Ro knows that we have incredible potential here in Silicon Valley and across the country, but he also understands that we can’t move the economy forward without fixing a badly broken Congress.”

Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont, is challenging fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda of San Jose; Republicans Vanila Singh and Joel Vanlandingham also are in the race.

Khanna’s first TV ad, touching on Americans’ frustration with Congress and special interests, began airing March 25.

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 13 Comments »

CA17: More on the GOP candidate controversy

My article in today’s editions about whether Democratic House candidate Ro Khanna and/or his supporters had anything to do with getting Republican Joel Vanlandingham into the 17th Congressional District race had far more complexity than room in the paper allowed.

For one thing, there’s a personal element of bad blood between Vanila Singh – the first Republican to enter the race – and Romesh Japra, the Fremont Hindu Temple chairman who is a staunch Khanna supporter.

Vanila SinghWhen Singh entered the race to unseat Rep. Mike Honda in January, analysts said it could help Honda by stripping Khanna of GOP votes in June’s top-two primary election; in fact, a poll in February found Singh, largely by dint of her party, had leapfrogged slightly ahead of Khanna. But then two more Republicans – Vanlandingham, and another who was kicked off the ballot last week for petition signature irregularities – jumped into the race, potentially splitting the district’s small GOP base and helping Khanna surpass all Republicans in June and go one-on-one with Honda in November.

I hear Japra is a somewhat polarizing figure in the Indo-American community, wielding a lot of influence as chairman of the temple and of the Federation of Indian Associations. It’s the kind of influence some might resent in an old-country, political power-broker sort of way, but still significant enough that it would be hard for a candidate to snub him.

Singh said Wednesday that she and her parents were longtime friends with Japra, who even attended her children’s birthday parties as recently as last summer. But that ended abruptly when he learned she was considering entering this race, she said; since then, he has both spoken ill of her in the community and demoted her mother from a temple leadership position.

Romesh Japra“We’ve lost a friend, or someone we thought was a friend, because of dirty politics,” she said. “The revelation that his closest associates, have actively recruited and signed for a fake Republican candidate to enter the race is shocking.”

That’s not proved, of course, though the evidence presented in my story isn’t easily explained away. It’s also possible as well that if Japra and temple officials were involved in Vanlandingham’s candidacy, they acted without Khanna’s knowledge; American politics is littered with tales of candidates and elected officials being tarred with their supporters’ independent actions. Singh, however, doesn’t buy that.

“What I’ve seen with my own eyes is Khanna following Japra and them working in concert together,” she said. “I would have a hard time to believe this was a rogue element that happened once by chance.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 18 Comments »

CA17: Honda outraises Khanna for the first time

Rep. Mike Honda outraised Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in 2014’s first three months – the first quarter in which he has done so since Khanna entered the race a year ago.

Honda, D-San Jose, raised more than $650,000 from Jan. 1 through March 31, and had more than $1,050,000 cash on hand at the end of that period, his campaign said Wednesday. Khanna’s campaign said it raised more than $460,000 in the same time, and has almost $2 million cash on hand.

Republican candidate Vanila Singh’s campaign consultant, Travis Smith, said her numbers won’t be available for a few days. Republican Joel Vanlandingham has said he doesn’t plan to accept contributions.

Honda’s campaign noted the seven-term congressman received contributions from more than 1,750 individuals, with more than half of the contributions at $100 or less. “I’m humbled by the incredible support from our grassroots supporters nation-wide, which makes this campaign possible, and I anticipate will continue to grow,” Honda said in a news release.

Khanna’s campaign also said a majority of his donors gave less than $100 each, and noted Khanna has refused to take money from any political action committees and is relying on a 150-person volunteer fundraising committee instead of paid finance consultants.

“I knew that taking a bold pledge to refuse special interest donations and only receiving support from individuals wouldn’t be the easiest road, but leading by example is what’s expected of Silicon Valley’s congressman,” Khanna said in a news release. “I’m proud of the grassroots campaign that we’re building and I’m humbled by the enthusiastic response to my positive message of changing business as usual in Washington.”

Khanna outstripped Honda in fundraising in each of the previous quarters in this 2013-14 cycle; at 2013’s end, Khanna had $1.97 million cash on hand while Honda had $622,000 in the bank. If they spend all they’ve raised, the 17th Congressional District race could rank among the nation’s most expensive House contests.

Honda campaign manager Doug Greven said in Wednesday’s release that his team “always said that we would have the resources we need to win in November, and our strong numbers this quarter show that we are on track. We know that Mike will make it past the June 3 primary, and we will continue to marshal our resources for the November general election.”

Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan said her team is “especially proud to have increased our fundraising from last quarter and to tell the people of the 17th District we have done so without taking a single dollar from PACs or lobbyists.” She challenged Honda to disclose how much money he has taken from such sources.

Neither campaign provided its detailed Federal Election Commission reports, which must be filed by April 15.

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Under: campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 14 Comments »

CA17: Ro Khanna launches first TV ad

Ro Khanna, taking on fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda, has launched the first television ad of the 17th Congressional District race.

“Ro shares the frustrations of Bay Area families who believe special interests have too much influence in Washington and are drowning out the voices of the American people,” Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan said in a news release. “Ro knows that we can’t change Congress overnight, but he’s committed to leading by example and fighting for the change that the people in the 17th district deserve.”

Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law refused to say how much was spent to air the ad, or where or when specifically it will air. “It’s a significant buy and the ad will be airing on TV across the 17th District,” Law said Tuesday morning.

Honda, D-San Jose, is also being challenged by Republicans Vanila Singh, Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore.

Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

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.

Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 17 Comments »

CA17: Mike Honda’s political director resigns

The political director of Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign has quit, telling supporters the 17th Congressional District’s competitive nature “will require and deserve an increasingly greater commitment of time and energy.”

Lamar HeystekLamar Heystek wrote that he’s choosing instead “to begin devoting more time and energy to my wife, our son and the family we look forward to growing together,” as well as starting a new job as program development officer at ASIAN Inc., a San Francisco nonprofit working on behalf of Asian Americans and other minorities in areas such as business development, housing and financial education.

It sounds like there’s no bad blood between Heystek, 35, of San Francisco, and Honda, D-San Jose. “My faith and confidence in him and his campaign have been unshakable. He is an outstanding public servant and a great friend who will continue to receive my support and assistance.”

Campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Honda’s campaign has been paying Heystek $6,000 per month.

Heystek, a former Davis councilman, departs as the 17th District race shifts into even higher gear for the sprint toward June 3’s top-two primary. Fellow Democrat Ro Khanna’s challenge has been making headlines for almost a year; Republican Vanila Singh got into the race at the start of 2014; and two other Republicans – Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore – entered the race just before this month’s candidacy filing deadline.

Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Wednesday that Heystek has been an important part of the campaign since joining it in 2011, helping to run its multi-lingual voter outreach and laying the groundwork for Honda’s overwhelming Democratic Party endorsement.

“Lamar’s departure from the campaign, so he can spend more time with his growing family, has been in the works for months and the transition has been smooth,” Kembaiyan said. “We miss seeing Lamar everyday, but thanks in part to his dedication and hard work, Congressman Honda’s campaign is in its strongest position ever and we are continuing full speed ahead into the primary.”

Read Heystek’s entire email, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 12 Comments »