Ro Khanna Is Making Ellen Corbett Very Nervous

Ro Khanna

Nov. 21, 2011 | Many in the East Bay see Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett as the rightful extension of Rep. Pete Stark’s over three decades in Washington. Powerful forces in the Democratic Party and free-wheeling Silicon Valley types are increasingly choosing former Obama commerce department official Ro Khanna with boatloads of cash.

Insiders believe Khanna pulled down close to $250,000 at a homecoming of sorts hosted by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta last weekend in Hayward.

The fundraising windfall would follow $440,000 in donations last month at an event at the home of venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, according to the San Jose Mercury News. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attended that event and Gov. Jerry Brown also attended an event last week featuring Khanna.

All of this is becoming a great concern for Corbett, according to sources who have spoken privately with the long-time San Leandro legislator. Corbett and Khanna were seen Oct. 20 chatting at the kick-off fundraiser for Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk’s assembly campaign. Corbett appeared to be buoyed by the conversation with Khanna, according to a source, but it only underscored Corbett’s continued cautiousness in navigating a likely congressional run in 2014 against a burgeoning and apparently well-healed candidate like Khanna with contacts from D.C. to the South Bay.

Her worries are not unwarranted. Pelosi’s unstated, but suggested support for Khanna, an Indian American, would be a perfect ally for House Democrats who will need Silicon Valley’s continued reliance on tip-top business relations with government officials and tech companies in India.

If Khanna officially announces his intention to run for Stark’s seat in 2014, it would not be his first run for Congress. He unsuccessfully ran against Tom Lantos in 2004 Democratic primary for the 12th District in San Mateo.