Honda Names Campaign Team For Race, As Of Yet, Without A Challenger

Rep. Mike Honda

CONGRESS | Mike Honda made another early move for re-election in 2014 by already announcing his campaign team this past week hoping to get an early start on heading off potential competitor, Ro Khanna, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary in U.S. Department of Commerce.

According to a press release Honda hired Terris, Barnes & Walters as his campaign management and media consulting team who has done work with Rep. Mike Thompson, State Sens. Jim Beall and Bill Monning and the late Tom Lantos, among others. Incidentally, Khanna once opposed Lantos for Congress in 2004. Michael Terris was also Pete Stark’s political consulant last year during his unsuccessful bid for re-election in the 15th Congressional District.

Berry Barnes, the lead consultant on Honda’s team stated in the press release, “I’ve known Mike for 20 years and have seen the amazing things he has accomplished for the people of Silicon Valley. He is known and loved by this community. He is the right guy at the right time to help grow our local economy. He is also a national leader on core issues like education and job creation.”

Honda also hired Lake Research Partners for polling, Full Court Press Communications for communications and social media and re-hired Lamar Heystek as his field director. Furthermore, Honda has received another early endorsement from Democratic National Committee Chair, Howard Dean and 20 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Honda’s early endorsements and campaign team announcement further confirms the 17-term congressman’s fears of being usurped by another young up and comer. After Eric Swalwell defeated long-term incumbent Stark last fall, insiders started talking about Honda fearing a loss in 2014 for re-election.

Khanna, 36, who use to work for the Obama administration, may strike that blow thus dampening more of the old power base in the East Bay that use to consist the likes of State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Stark.

Khanna, however hasn’t even officially announced a run for the 17th yet. Last year he thought of running in the 15th against Stark, but decided against the idea and instead endorsed the firebrand incumbent and even hosted a fundraiser for him. Khanna likely hoped that Stark would retire in 2014 if he was re-elected thus giving him a chance to face off against State Senator Ellen Corbett. Khanna had raised $1.2 million for a run for Congress last year in one financial period raising eyebrows from local politicos and media.

Khanna had revealed to The Citizen last November that he was to meet with Corbett to discuss the 2014 election season and the deal offered was for him to run against Honda to avoid interfering with Corbett’s faceoff with newly elected congressman, Swalwell. Since then Corbett has told The Citizen that she thinks Khanna will go for Honda instead of Swalwell in 2014 even though Khanna has yet to publicly commit to that.

But Honda appears to likely ward off competition by soliciting endorsements, campaign contributions and bolstering his ranks for potentially a difficult battle in 2014. If Khanna defeats Honda it would become the second time in two years an entrenched incumbent is defeated by a young challenger in the East Bay, whereas just a single incumbent congressman in California had lost in the previous decade years when Rep. Jerry McNerney beat Richard Pombo in San Joaquin County.

Shane Bond is an East Bay Citizen contributor.