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Neel Kashkari rolls out grassroots coalition chairs

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari announced his “coalition team chairs” Tuesday, and including some familiar Bay Area and California GOP names.

“I am honored by the depth and breadth of the support I’ve received from Californians across our great state,” Kashkari said in a news release. “I appreciate these men and women who have agreed to support my campaign and help spread our message about jobs and education.”

Charles Moran, a Los Angeles development and public affairs consultant who chairs the California Log Cabin Republicans, will chair the campaign’s California Coalitions team – a chair of chairs, as it were. And here’s the rest of the roster:

    Indo-Americans for Kashkari – Dr. Vanila Singh of Fremont, a Stanford University professor and physician who was defeated in the 17th Congressional District’s primary election
    Healthcare Professionals for Kashkari – Dr. Nikan Khatibi of Laguna Niguel, a physician, neuroscience researcher and medical journal article author
    Latinos for KashkariMario Rodriguez of San Clemente, CEO of Jonathan Grey & Associates and chairman of Hispanic 100
    Farmers & Ranchers for KashkariRyan Schohr of Chico, a farmer who was defeated in the 3rd Assembly District’s primary election
    Veterans for KashkariChuck McDougald of South San Francisco, chairman of the San Mateo County Republican Party
    Asian-Americans for KashkariMei Mei Huff of Diamond Bar, business consultant and wife of state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff
    LGBT for Kashkari – co-chairs Susan Jester of San Diego, a community activist and founder of AIDS Walk San Diego; and Mark Snyder of Sacramento, a business owner
    Young Professionals for KashkariMatthew Del Carlo of San Francisco, a public and corporate affairs consultant, past president of the San Francisco Young Republicans, and 2012 19th Assembly District candidate
    Students for Kashkari – co-chairs Jere Ford of the University of San Diego, administrative vice-chair of the California College Republicans, and Ambika Bist of the Claremont Colleges
    Women for KashkariParmis Khatibi of Laguna Niguel, a clinical pharmacist specialist at UC-Irvine Medical Center, clinical adjunct professor at UCSF and USC pharmacy schools
7

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.

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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

7

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.

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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.”

4

CA17: Singh to hold GOTV rally with Kashkari

Congressional candidate Vanila Singh will host a rally at her campaign’s headquarters in Milpitas this Saturday, May 31, with a slew of other Republicans including gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.

“The Silicon Valley has never seen a Republican ‘Get-Out-The-Vote’ effort like this before,” Dr. Singh said in a statement issued Monday.

Also scheduled to attend are Ron Nehring, a former state GOP chairman who now is running for lieutenant governor; 10th State Senate District candidate Peter Kuo, 20th Assembly District candidate Jaime Patino; and 28th Assembly District candidate Chuck Page, as well as party leaders such as Alameda County Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Caro.

The rally is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Singh’s campaign headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd, Suite 215 in Milpitas. Singh is running to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in the 17th Congressional District; also in the race are Democrat Ro Khanna and Republican Joel VanLandingham. A poll conducted last week found Singh running a distant third behind Honda and Khanna.

Singh launched her second television ad Saturday: