Why Khanna Is The One To Beat Honda

THE SUNDAY COLUMN | California’s 17th Congressional District is quite possibly the single most important seat in Congress. The land of Apple, Google, Facebook, Cisco, Tesla and just about every other startup fueling the new economy today is located in this area, yet the linkage between these ideas and products and government are non-existent in the minds of voters and political watchers.

Instead, Rep. Mike Honda is sitting on a goldmine in Silicon Valley and doesn’t seem to know it. It’s akin to being the owner of the New York Yankees and fielding the team with low-priced minor league free-agents and rookies. Honda’s inability to connect Silicon Valley to Washington may be part of the tech culture’s aversion to taking a role in government, but the likable, former Japanese American internment camp survivo is of another time—not of this century, and therefore, not built to move America’s leading high tech companies forward. Like it or not, the Googles and Apples of the world and the inheritors of their visions will employ this nation and government involvement will necessitate it growing even larger than any of them envisioned.

Ro Khanna, Rep. Mike Honda

When Honda, only re-elected last November, rolled out endorsements from President Obama and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week, it revealed an enormous amount of weakness on his part. Honda’s next election isn’t until 2014, for crissakes, and there are no known official candidates declaring a run at him. Of course, Ro Khanna, the former Obama appointee to the Commerce Department, is a likely and strong challenger, if he chooses to face Honda, instead of Rep. Eric Swalwell and State Sen. Ellen Corbett in the East Bay’s 15th Congressional District.

Honda’s seat is far better suited for Khanna, also the author of a well-received book touting the America’s future through manufacturing, than the 15th where its future is still middling between weaning itself away its former glory as an industrial base and high tech manufacturing and green technologies, it hopes to be one day. The East Bay is also in a state of flux as power moves slowly, but undeniably, from Oakland to the Tri Valley and Fremont. The Tri Valley may not connect with Khanna, although there are many who will privately tell you they wish Khanna would challenge Swalwell and Corbett out of nothing but sheer spite for either politician. However, it is unlikely to happen.

Khanna may or may not be running for Honda’s seat, but Honda’s is surely giving away the secret by his actions. Ironically, the best way for Khanna to beat Honda is borrow a bit from Swalwell’s successful campaign against Pete Stark last fall, specifically, the meme of generational divide between the two men. In fact, if you remove Stark’s infamous propensity for aggressive language, what you have left over is Honda. A likable progressive focused on one noble issue. (Stark: health care. Honda: education).

If the young ideologues who dreamed up Google once putted around Silicon Valley in a reliable Honda, it may be time for them to go wild and start driving a Cama-Ro. As we saw with Swalwell, if a candidate can forcefully and honestly peg the long-time incumbent as out-of-touch, it undeniably resonates with voters. In Khanna’s case there is no doubt he represents Google and the 21st Century with its endless possibilities, while Honda represents Encyclopedia Britannica and the destructive 20th Century. Such a matchup does not bode well for Honda, and with his panicky thrashing of water this week with two notable, but, at this point, needless endorsements, it seems like he is struggling at seeing the writing on the wall (well, not literally a wall, but one you might find on Facebook.)

“Now, this is Nate Miley talking and you may not agree with me and I really don’t care if you agree with me or not.” – Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, during a board meeting Jan. 29, addressing critics in Oakland who say they need less cops, not more.

Tweet of the Week
@Abel_Guillen: Dear , we are in not San Francisco! , Jan. 28

The Week That Was and Will Be
 The Oakland Police Department’s chronic inability to comply with the terms of a decade-old court order to clean up its ranks continued this week with Independent Monitor Robert Warshaw’s quarterly report, which detailed the OPD is regressing in its compliance. The report also chided the OPD’s accountability among managers and supervisors along with its reporting of police misconduct. Warshaw wrote Oakland police officers pointed their guns at five residents without cause, including a baby.

As noted above, the South Bay’s Rep. Mike Honda trotted out endorsements for his 2014 campaign from President Obama and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Bob Wieckowksi

Fremont Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski was in the news twice this week. He offered a bill that would allow Alameda County yet another exemption to raise a transportation tax measure in the foreseeable future. Wieckowski was successful two years ago with gaining a similar exemption, but Measure B1, lost by an excruciating 700 votes last November.

Wieckowski appears to have also lost control of his Assembly Democratic delegation, at least, for the time being. Winners of the opposing slate of assembly convention delegates to Wieckowski’s won 9 of 12 seats last month. This week, came reports Wieckowski is asking the Democratic Party for a re-vote, saying over 40 people last Jan. 12 were no-democrats or decline to state voters. Cleary against the party’s bylaws, but the winners contend it was Wieckowski’s staff that actually brought the non-dems!

Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney may be looking to take a different angle for getting residents involved with improving the city’s dreadful school district. During a State of the City address, Sweeney said if Hayward’s Academic Performance Index (API) scores just raised from the current slot as the worst in Alameda County to the middle of the pack, it might represent an increase of $100,000 home prices and wipe away Hayward’s structural deficit.

As we roar into February, the first week will littered with council meetings in all parts of the county, but look further ahead to next week with a load of controversial issues. San Leandro takes public comment on possible medical cannabis dispensaries, while the Board of Supervisors deals with an attack of drone critics on Valentine’s Day.

Best Reads
Colorlines takes a look at Ryan Coogler, the writer and director of “Fruitvale,” the highly-acclaimed darling of the Sundance Film Festival. The film details the last day of Oscar Grant’s life before he was killed New Year’s morning by a BART police officer. (Colorlines, Jan. 28.)

Is Sandre Swanson, Oakland new deputy mayor, in a holding pattern until he likely runs for State Senate in 2016? In the meantime, he may be betting his chances on Mayor Jean Quan success over the next two years. (East Bay Express, Jan. 23.)

The New Republic, itsself reinvigorated by a new owner, says California’s revived economy is being steered by progressive in the Legislature. (New Republic, Jan. 28).

26 thoughts on “Why Khanna Is The One To Beat Honda

  1. 10:24, Ro probably made a deal not to run against Corbett. Corbett may have served in public office, but she did nothing for San Leandro.
    Corbett has always been a carpetbagger, it's nothing new to her. Hope Swalwell beats her bottom.


  2. Carpet bagging is not the issue with Ro. The issue is that it looks like he wants to get into Congress anyway he can and for his own power. Does not look like he wants to belong to a community and wants to serve that community. At least people like Corbett, Swalwell etc ran for local public office and creditably served the local community. Ro is not a proven elected personality and it would do well for his political career to run for some local political offices to begin with. We were told by the press at one point that he had ambitions for Pete Stark's seat after Pete retired. So he needs to hold onto that plan because he moved to Alameda for that purpose. Why does he think that he finds it challenging to run against Swalwell? Does he just want to get into Congress or does he want to serve the people who elect him? Voters be on guard.


  3. Corbett is a known carpetbagger too! She'd love Khanna getting out of her chance to run against Swalwell. Corbett the do nothing, done nothing. Buys a house in Hayward. She needs to find a real job!!


  4. If I'm not mistaken, isn't Honda's district in both Alameda County and Santa Clara County? I'm trying to understand the carpetbagging accusations. Khanna ran for Congress 10 years ago in the San Mateo district, but has lived in Fremont for the past several years. To me it sounds like he could run in either Swalwell's or Honda's district given that Fremont is divided between the two districts. I don't think that really makes him a carpetbagger in my humble opinion. The same could be said for Honda. Even though his house is outside of the district, I don't think that makes him a carpetbagger. Sounds pretty much like a wash to me.

    I hope Khanna decides to run. This would be a good race for Silicon Valley.


  5. Not true. Hardly a minor issue.

    Bottom line: If he looks like a carpetbagger, sounds like a carpetbagger, and smells like a carpetbagger–that's right. HE'S A…..CARPETBAGGER!!!!

    Let the spinfest for election 2014 begin!


  6. Ro would be carpetbagging only if the people decide that is the case.
    Check out Congressman Tom McClintock.
    Represented a state senate district in SoCal then jumped up near Placer Co to run for congress.
    The voters wanted him for their member of congress.

    Ro's geographic leap would be nothing compared to that.

    Remember that a person can run in any congressional district as long as he inhabits the state.

    The carpetbagging issue would be a minor issue if Ro ran against Honda.


  7. When people choose to remain 'anonymous,' we really don't know anything at all about them, including gender.

    I believe the previous remarks about 'carpetbagging' are legitimate. I checked. Khanna did run for congress in San Mateo County. If he does so again in Santa Clara County after living for years in Alameda County and all but running here, then the accusation is absolutely apropos.


  8. Looks like I was referred to as “sonny”. LOL! Unless I've grown a penis overnight and I didn't notice, someone really needs to get their facts straight.

    BTW – Ro has only run for office ONCE before, not three times as a couple of so-called experts try to claim in the comments above.

    Anyway, I agree that we need to stick to the issues. The so-called carpet-bagging arguments can swing both ways, which is really not all that important when it comes down to it.


  9. I've been wondering what Ro Khanna's real first name was. I thought Ro was a shortened version.

    The Daily Kos says it is Rohit “Ro” Khanna.

    Interesting. I can see the switch to Ro, however one could also have used some other versions.

    How about using “Hit” Khanna, (edgy)
    Or perhaps R. “Hit” Khanna.

    Hmmm, perhaps Ro is the best choice, much like Pete was better than Fortney.


  10. Ro lives in Fremont and has lived there for years. He's in Alameda County. The new CD 17 is split between Alameda County and Santa Clara County. He has not moved to Santa Clara County. He is not carpetbagging.

    In fairness, Mike Honda also is not carpetbagging. Yes, he technically lives outside the district but he's represented much of the district.

    Can we please stick to the issues?


  11. Facts ARE straight, sonny. First, he went into San Mateo County, years ago, ran and lost bigtime. Then he moved into Alameda County–“If they don't like me in San Mateo County then I'll get them to love me in AC.” Now the talk is about going into Santa Clara County and challenging Mike Honda there.

    Not too good at math, so let me see: yup, that makes three counties where he has either run and come up empty, tried or trying to ingratiate himself to the local masses, or is planning to do the same yet again elsewhere. Familiar with the saying–threes strikes and you're out, Ro?

    You sure are right. CERTAIN PEOPLE really do need to get their 'facts' right.

    By the way, kid, owning property in another district is not against the law. You can even live in another district than the one you represent, though I don't advise it. Ro is the best example of being a carpetbagger extraordinaire.

    Just said it!!;)


  12. Mike Honda is just as guilty (or more guilty) of carpetbagging that Khanna ever will be. Last I heard Honda still owns a house in San Jose which isn't in the 17th district. At least Khanna lives in the district (Fremont), as he has for several years. People really need to get their facts straight before making such claims.

    Just sayin'! 🙂


  13. Ro Khanna needs to get a life. He claims to have created jobs!! I thought that it is policies of the White House and Congress that creates jobs. And in his capacity as the Deputy under Secretary (way under in the food chain), he just carries out the policies that come from above. So I wonder how he claims to be a job creator.

    Secondly, if he was so good, then why did he quit. I get it. It maybe that his job as lawyer in more lucrative. Then if that is so then why is he campaigning to oppose Mr. Handa so early on. Why did he abandon Pete's constituency? Why is he “carpet bagging” as someone has said. He is going to be a “weathervane” Congressman judging from his carpet bagging behavior. Do we need such weathervanes? Hey I got a real weathervane to sell.


  14. Honda has been going around the district telling lies about Khanna all week last week, even going as far as claiming that he has been a father figure to Khanna. Honda has never been a “father figure” to him and it's appalling that he's making such a false claim. He was the only member of the Bay Area delegation who didn't write a letter of recommendation for Khanna when he was applying for a position with the Administration back in 2008. Honda didn't attend any of Khanna's events in 2011, where Pelosi, Lofgren, Eshoo, Mineta, and Governor Brown all attended. Honda doesn't sound like a father figure to me, otherwise he would've been supporting Khanna all along.

    Also, to my knowledge he has not been “parading around Democratic circles, openly claiming that President Obama and his team were going to support him, along with Labor, Pelosi, Lofgen, Newsom, Boxer, and others”

    That is a another false claim being made by Honda's campaign to try and intimidate local leaders. Khanna hasn't even announced he is running yet, so I don't think he would be claiming to have endorsements that he doesn't have. Honda is just being desperate and telling one lie after another in an attempt to get Khanna not to run against him. Honda knows he is screwed if Khanna runs and all of his actions and lies from the past couple of weeks scream desperation.

    Also, last I saw Fremont is in CD 17. Khanna has been a Fremont resident for several years, so I don't know how that makes him a carpetbagger? If anyone is a carpetbagger, it's Mike Honda! He was pushed out of his district by Zoe Lofgren so he had to find another district to run in. Last I heard, his house is still in the old district.

    Hopefully Khanna hasn't been unnerved by any of Honda's actions the past couple of weeks. With the top-two primary, demographics, and younger median age within the district he has an excellent shot at winning! And CD17 will finally have a representative that truly represents the best interests of the district.

    So proud of California for voting for the top-two primary law! Now, we just need to impose term limits on Senators and Congress then all will be fair in the world!


  15. Carpet-bagger Khanna–I'm from San Mateo County, no, Alameda County, wait, now Santa Clara County–couldn't win if his was the only name on the ballot!

    If not Honda, I'll vote for the man in the moon!


  16. Steve, please start talking to sources other than Khanna himself, and his campaign team.

    Honda is probably rolling out these endorsements to undermine Ro's talking points. Khanna has been parading around in Democratic circles, openly claiming that President Obama and his team were going to support him, along with Labor, Pelosi, Lofgen, Newsom, Boxer, and others.

    Those things are turning out to be false, one-by-one. So what are we to think about a candidate who, by all means has the potential, but is, on the other hand, willing to try to embellish his way to the top?

    This young man has all the potential in the world. He could make a wonderful case for himself without attacking the Party, undermining the President, lying about Honda, or embellishing his support.

    Some of us might consider those acts of desperation.


  17. Khanna was not proven himself as a poltician except as a fundraiser outside the district. Another thing to remember- alot of googlers and facebookers live in SF- I see the Google buses rolling through SF everyday.


  18. Terrific article! I couldn't agree more with your assessment, Steven. Not only is Honda showing deliberate signs of desperation with shoring up endorsements from Obama and Pelosi two years early, before he even as a challenger; but he is also using using his Congressional seat as a bully pulpit to intimidate local leaders to lock up endorsements. In the past week there have been a number of people who had been supporting Khanna for the past two years suddenly get cold feet out of concern for their own political interests. It's kind of sad. Honda is no different than Stark in the sense where he feels a sense of entitlement and that the seat should be his as long as he wants it. That's a huge problem and just shows you how out of touch with reality Honda really is. Khanna represents the 21st Century and the future of Silicon Valley; and CD17 would be very lucky to have him represent them in 2014 and beyond.


  19. Great Article on Mr.Khanna. I am true beliver that we need change ….

    What are the differences of Silicon Valley compared to rest of the world ? The characteristic difference of Silicon Valley is that here you have world's fastest paced unstoppable introduction of scientific and technological innovations.

    Check this article out – How Intel has not created a single job over a decade and the rising taxes rates, enormous housing costs is killing the Silicon valley. (http://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-paul-otellini-california,18147.html )

    This is why we need a young and dynamic political entrepreuner Cama-Ro to replace the outdated and out-of-touch Honda !!


  20. Steve, your analysis on the Khanna and Honda race is very intriguing. You have the most insightful view into Bay Area politics, and the fact you are so bullish on Khanna gives me reason to be optimistic for the future of politics in this area.


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