Fearless Prediction: Khanna In A Cakewalk (Write It Down, Dude)

SUNDAY COLUMN | “Is Ro Khanna the new Barack Obama?” blared a headline this week from Bloomberg Businessweek that reverberated throughout the South Bay. Are you kidding me? Or, as college hoop loudmouth Dick Vitale might say if he gave a damn about congressional elections, “Are you seeeerious!”

For Rep. Mike Honda, the holder the 17th Congressional District seat fellow Democrat Ro Khanna now covets, the seemingly absurd assertion is not media boilerplate, but the initial downhill push leading to Honda’s demise. It is a harbinger of things to come. A coupling of Honda’s peculiar, almost desperate behavior by hoarding big-name Democratic endorsements so early in the race and Khanna’s All-Star team of Obama’s foot soldiers, appears to be a train wreck for Honda happening in slow-motion over the next 18 months.

Rep. Mike Honda

What we learned this week from Khanna’s announcement is his clear preference for the quick knockout. Khanna, it seems, defaults toward Shock and Awe. He burst onto the local scene a year ago on a fundraising tear never before seen in these parts. A stack of checks worth over $1.2 million signed by some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley and deposited within 30 days. Fast forward and Khanna achieved the same blunt force trauma on his opponent by naming three members of President Obama’s vaunted campaign re-election team. In terms of local congressional races, it’s akin to an AAU basketball team bringing in Steph Curry and David Lee on the fly, because little Johnny was out with mono.

In one fell swoop, Khanna negated and toppled Honda’s recent spate of endorsements ranging from the President to Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In the face of Khanna’s momentum, a youthful opponent and the ghost of Rep. Pete Stark’s drubbing in the nearby 15th District, Honda suddenly seems stale in comparison to growing meme Khanna is quickly becoming Silicon Valley’s New New New Thing.

However, aside from these perceptions, all you need to predict the ebb and flow of this race is to look at the people running the campaigns. We know the cutting-edge fire power Khanna possesses in his campaign team. We also understand its impetus for working with Khanna in terms of their own legacy in transforming the entire Democratic Party and rewriting the playbook for how political campaigns are run for the next generation. We get that, but just look at who Honda has manning the ship—a group of castoffs from Stark’s failed, ultimately very winnable race last year versus Eric Swalwell. Despite Swalwell’s upset in overtaking Stark, an entrenched congressman like Honda facing a young upstart within his party, it is a misreading of the race to merely say Stark fumbled away the seat with his antics. In fact, even if Stark walked into a debate clueless and with his pants around his ankles, he should have won that race. Although Honda’s team should have a useful understanding of the new Dem-on-Dem paradigm in California politics, it is also part of a group that were beaten by an operation last year so unsophisticated that it would have had trouble winning Swalwell’s own seat for re-election on the Dublin City Council.

In the end, Honda supporters are now expected to have confidence in their man’s re-election next year against an operation that demolished a presidential challenger and one with likely 2-3 time greater funding than Swalwell employed to beat the incumbent Stark. It’s not going to happen and you heard it here first. The winds of change are with Khanna and those vaunted vows of support for Honda from the Democratic cognoscenti, there about as valuable as stock in MySpace.

“Yes, he is my friend. I support you to the fullest and, yes, you are my brother and most importantly, you are my councilman.”
Ken Houston, Oakland businessman, Apr. 2, in comments directing to Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid. Houston was named in the Ruby Report, released last month, in connection to allegations Reid and Councilmember Desley Brooks interfered in the bidding process for a construction firm at the Oakland Army Base affiliated with Houston.

The Week That Was
>>>Lots of action in Oakland this week. Its school superintendent Tony Smith abruptly resigned onfirst public comments over a scathing audit alleging she violated the city charter 12 times features tempered derision and her own allegations the city auditor’s own staff doesn’t like her, either. So there!
Friday representing a huge setback for the slowly rising school district. Councilmembers Desley Brooks’

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said a proposed budget from her office is forthcoming in the next two weeks and nearly of the city’s reserves will revert back to the state following the end of its redevelopment agency. Cuts to staffing and programs may be on the table, she said Tuesday.

>>>Federal regulators told Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and state Sen. Loni Hancock the Cal/OSHA is too short staffed to investigate the state’s roughly 1,600 oil refineries for structural and safety problems like the Aug. 2012 fire at the Chevron Richmond Refinery that sent over 15,000 people complaining of breathing and respiratory problems.

>>>A 100-foot wind turbine moved closer to becoming part of the San Leandro shoreline’s landscape following a 5-1 vote of the San Leandro City Council affirming its zoning commission’s February ruling in favor of the commercial variance. Homeowners at nearby Heron Bay may sue the city in Superior Court arguing for a more rigorous environmental impact report.

Tweet of the Week
“And of course, for shooting a kid in the face OPD puts the shooter on paid leave, IE vacation. Y’know… SOP and all that. #Oakland”
-@Adaminoakland, Apr. 4, tweeting about a 16-year-old boy shot in the face by Oakland Police this week. OPD says the boy was accidentally shot and not involved with a suspected robbery on Clay Street. OPD shot another two days later

Best Reads
>>>Paul Krugman devotes a column to the California as a national example of renewal likely due to shedding Republican impotence in the Legislature and funding education with greater flexibility to raise taxes. (The New York Times, Apr. 1).

>>>Again, isn’t it sad the Bay Area’s own newspapers unmercifully trash Oakland, yet the national newspaper of record continues to heap praise from 5,000 miles away? The Times this week looked at Oakland’s restorative justice program that takes the time to fix wayward youths rather than throwing them into the system. (The New York Times, Apr. 4).

>>>The esteemed Josh Green profiles Ro Khanna, his background and the team of Obama campaign staffers experimenting with the same techniques on the congressional level that won the president re-election last fall. (Bloomberg Businessweek, April 4).

Voice of the People
“So I saw Ro at Mineta Airport recently. He was checking three bags and the worker noticed each had a different tag. The first was labeled San Mateo County; the second, Alameda County; the third, Santa Clara County. When asked why the inconsistency, Ro answered that “I move around a lot…”
Anonymous, Apr. 5, commenting (joking) about Ro Khanna’s past run, near-run for Congress on “Khanna Announces Run For Congress.”

Categories: CD15, Chevron, congress, Desley Brooks, Eric Swalwell, Jean Quan, Mike Honda, Oakland, Pete Stark, President Obama, Ro Khanna, sunday column, wind turbines

26 replies

  1. You heard it HERE first. Race won't even be close. Asian orientals will all be for Mike, along with the usual folks.

    Bottom line is that nobody likes a carpetbagger, and Khan-job needs to pay his dues first. He just doesn't get it, and as a result will go down just like he did in San Mateo County years ago. Damaged goods with a long-past expiration date!


  2. As a disillusioned Democrat, proud to say that I only voted for Obama in the general election of 2008. Never in the primaries nor in this last election. I left it blank. He's soiled and nothing special. I agree. Khanna is absolutely the new Obama!


  3. How ya gonna package this…

    2:28 to 2:48 in the video


    Honda knows full well he is gonna be interviewed that day, but instead of having a sharp crisp answer, he is left saying nothing ….and finally they just cut away before he has said anything.

    Do you think, at his age and with his 24 years in elected office that now you can teach him the basics of how to handle a 15 second news clip.

    Point blank, you have to be fully prepared with short sharp answers that don't make you look clueless.

    He comes off like a nice older man and thats about it. No energy, no idea.


  4. Khanna supports the Great Amnesty of Illegals 2013–just like the last time in 1986!


  5. Steve, Khana's team has been named in your articles and the BANG's and Chrons. Nobody has nemaed the Honda consultants. Can you inform the public please, especially if you're going to comment on them?


  6. Tavares,

    I see you are still an idiot by making the comment,
    “an operation last year so unsophisticated that it would have had trouble winning Swalwell’s own seat for re-election on the Dublin City Council.”

    The operation that won Eric Swalwell's seat is a sophysticated one that defeated an entreched Congressman that didn't care about his people. Honda will more than likely go down to Khanna, and this too like Stark's defeat will shake the local party to it's core.

    It's just truley to bad you have no idea what you are writting about.


  7. Big way huge enormous difference between a gaffe prone Stark who even Joe Public knew about and Honda. The average voter did know who Stark was but they also knew about his many public mistakes. Honda has name recognition but it is positive unlike Stark. Honda wins. yes Khanna will make it close but name recognition will win it for Honda.

    You just need to look at how voters perceive their own congressperson. Poll after poll shows that while the average voter doesn't think much of overall Congress, they usually have very favorable views of their own Congressman. Honda is well respected. This will carry the day for him.


  8. Can we not use the word orientals, that is pretty racist.


  9. I disagree strongly. Orientals refers to people's in Asia who are not Israeli, Indian, Nepalese, etc. It's understood to refer to a specific part of Asia that encompasses China, Mongolia, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Llaos, Cambodia, Singapore, and perhaps a few other countries. When one is describing Khanna as being Asian, which he is, but specifically Indian, or Indian American, your choice of words, and one wants to explain that Asians, especially from the countries that I've listed above are more prone to vote for Honda based on 'pride,' then one needs to denote something more specific than a very broad 'Asian' reference. Excuse the excessively long run-on sentence.

    If anything, I was trying NOT to be racist. The term might not be like by SOME but it is correct. One need only look at references to a certain part of Asia as being labeled the Orient. I believe that I used it in a grammatically correct way, if not politically correct, which I could care less about.

    I used it correctly and specifically so as not to offend but needed to make a very precise reference. I stand by it.


  10. you cant even say nigerians anymore either or negros


  11. We need young blood to move us forward. Mr. Honda had his dozen plus years. Time for a change of guard. And silicon valley deserves someone that all Americans can look up to.


  12. Rep. Honda is young at heart, and I do look up to him. Thank you very much.


  13. Is Honda a man for the future, or is he a man who will hang onto the past.

    Look, he is a nice guy. A friendly nice older gentleman. But we all know, he doesn't know his way around a iPad or a worldwide technology market.

    He isn't ever going to catch up with the future.
    Rather, at best he is always going to be playing catch up to the present, but always being step behind.

    Just the nature of being 72 years old… 74 by the end of the term.

    You replace him now, or in 2 years. Or are you suggesting even another term beyond this next one?
    Because, if you are, then you are saying you accept a 75 year old man to represent the center of American technology.
    That is a dismal concept if our nation is to prosper.

    Look, I am over 60 myself, but I have no illusions about him being up to the job in the coming years.

    Time for a shift to someone who knows the future of the district.


  14. I agree with you–you are definitely past it. Honda is just fine, thank you very much.

    I don't believe in ageism; sonny boy could learn a lot from age and experience. I also don't support carpetbaggers.


  15. How is Khanna a carpet-bagger when he has lived in Fremont for 6 years? The Honda team has no idea of how much that area has changed and how easy it is to organize a bunch of voters who don't usually vote because they don't have a candidate. More voters in the new district will identify with Khanno over Honda. The Obama team is there to turn them out. There is no way Honda is going to win this race. Khanna is set to raise another million dollars this coming quarter and he will be neck in neck in the name ID polls within a year. Khanna has plenty of time to destroy Honda.


  16. And I have a bridge to sell you in Santa Clara, Alameda and San Mateo counties. Your choice.

    Khanjob knows all very well, since he ran and lost in one–LOSER–, flirted in another–KNOWING HE'D LOSE–, and is running against the Honda-Obama machine–RO WILL GO DOWN BIGTIME. That huge thud you hear in a year and a half will be Roboy packing his bags and moving–to another state! He is a charter member of Carpetbaggers Anonymous!!


  17. Hey, everyone doesn't call him Ro duh Ho for nothing.


  18. Thanks – and apologies – you did report on Honda's team.


  19. Do you really think you can sustain this sophomoric posting until 2014.

    And why? There isn't a single voter here who is being swayed by such posts.
    More productive to get some cards and play solitaire for all the effect it will have on the race.


  20. Hello folks, the article and discussions really serve up for humorous reads. A serious voter is first going to consider the proven records of both the candidates. One has not even held an elected office. silicon valley folks know well that we don't hire entry level folks directly into middle or top management. The candidates being talked about on this thread (even though some like Swalwell and Corbett are not relevant to the article) have all held elected offices. Ro is the only one who hasn't. And he is being compared to Obama!!! Wasn't he in the IL state legislature and US Senate before. So I don't see a parallel.

    I also see how some folks are talking about the huge money chest. Mr. Romney, would you have anything to comment on that?

    And lastly, aren't the top notch Obama campaigners standing by to help the next Democrat retain the WH in 2016? We all know that Obama is focusing on knocking off Republicans from Congress and not fellow Democrats. So I wonder where all this is coming from.

    So calm down folks. Ro full time job maybe to get into Congress, anyway he can. And he may have bought parts of the media with his money. But we the voters know very well that it is not time to pick one yet.

    Pete Stark was a spent force. In spite of his seniority, he was denied the Chairmanship of the all powerful Ways and Means because he had lost his credibility amongst his Democratic colleagues in the House. Honda is in no such adverse situation with his house colleagues judging from the endorsements he has received from them recently. so comparing his situation with that of Stark is like comparing apples to oranges.


  21. Anonymous, 2:38pm
    Where have you been. Silicon Valley has changed and so many people get the top slot becuase in some cases they start their own companies. Maybe a concept you are so out of touch with since you are so glued to the past or make an arguement because you are Honda loyalist. The future is going to require a new kind of campaining. Name iD can be acquired pretty quickly especially when you run an effective ground game.
    I dont know which media could have been bought. Also, the establishment is endorsing Honda because they have to, and are fearful that if Ro wins it will disrupt the traditional system of patronage and seeking everyone's blessing before you can run for office. Look around Alameda County and Santa Clara County which is full of elected officials that are un-inspiring and kissed the right rings to get to where they are.
    This is going to be campaign unlike anything seen before. New rules, new voters, a boat load of cash on both sides and it has the making of an intense campaign with the traditional institutional players unclear how to respond. I am keenly looking forward to this campaign.


  22. With Pelosi, Boxer, Feinstein and Obama already endorsing Honda–It's a slam dunk. I help get people elected and this is an easy call, and won't be close!


  23. Aqui! Aqui!

    Mi hermanos y hermanas vota Miguel Honda!!


  24. Worth noting:
    Though the bigwigs at the top of the Khanna campaign are from Obama's top tier, the people running the operations on the ground were from Obama's team in North Carolina–the only swing state that he lost. So maybe he's not as inevitable as we thought?
    Honda is certainly in trouble. But even when Hillary was the frontrunner, she never had 57%. Pete Stark certainly never had 57% in the polls at the beginning of 2012, I assure you. Honda is well-loved, and while it may be possible to play the age card and cast him as out of touch, you can't act like he is mean or cold (the tactic that seemed to work best against Stark & Hillary).
    So while it will certainly be a contest, I wouldn't close the book on this race yet, Steve. If Honda can define Ro early, raise lots of money, and put together a convincing narrative to rival Khanna's, then he could very well hold onto his seat.
    This will be interesting!


  25. 4:27 PM “With Pelosi, Boxer, Feinstein and Obama already endorsing Honda–It's a slam dunk”

    Funny, they all endorsed Pete Stark..”slam dunk”

    7:14 PM “But even when Hillary was the frontrunner, she never had 57%. Pete Stark certainly never had 57% in the polls at the beginning of 2012, I assure you.”

    LOL, the poll done by, and released by, Honda.. At a time when it wasn't about whether Khanna was favorable or unfavorable, they simply didn't know who he was.
    If back in early 2011, you had taken a poll of who people would vote for, Stark or Swalwell, you would have easily gotten 57% for Pete Stark with Swalwell coming in under 5%…
    Heck, go back to 1975 and see how Jimmy Carter polled. He was unknown.

    The Honda funded poll was only for self inflating purposes. Questions designed for the desired outcome. You could haved walked into a shopping center and asked 100 people what they think about Ro Khanna and gotten the same response.
    Ro who?
    Just like in 2011, they would have said Eric who?


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