CD17: Ro Khanna, Rep. Mike Honda

CONGRESS 17 | “Almost every Democrat in delegation gets behind Mike Honda,” said a headline in Roll Call, the congressional newspaper and Web site. The most intriguing word in that sentence is “almost.”

Curiously, one of the three House Democrats from California who have yet to endorse Honda is run likely brutal campaign for re-election next year against Ro Khanna, is nearby East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell. The others are Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) and Susan Davis (D-San Diego).

Two East Bay politicos told The Citizen this week they had differing opinions on Swalwell opting-out, at least for now, in endorsing a fellow incumbent in his neighboring district to the south. Maybe Swalwell is holding out to prove his convictions for change is real, one guessed. Like Pete Stark, whom Swalwell defeated last year on a platform of youth and vitality, Honda is another of the delegation’s aging and entrenched House members facing a vastly younger upstart in Khanna.

Another wasn’t buying it, saying Swalwell is merely waiting to gauge the coming political winds generated by the Honda/Khanna race. They also posited the absence of Swalwell’s name from a roll out of 34 congress members, on top of a consistent roll out of the biggest names in the state and national party, including the president, would be newsworthy, only if, Khanna covets his endorsement. However, Swalwell’s backing may be poisonous to any progressive candidate. Swalwell’s rise came with a certain price, not to him, but to the Alameda County Democratic Party.

Swalwell’s courting of Tri Valley conservatives, including Tea Party supporters, not only delivered a stunning five-point victory for himself last November, but also installed a deeply conservative mayor in Pleasanton, of which Swalwell endorsed over the more liberal Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio, and ushered the narrow defeat of Measure B1, the crucial transportation sales tax initiative in Alameda County.

With that sort of baggage, it’s not likely Swalwell’s endorsement would be very attractive to Khanna whose stalwart backing among Democratic operatives, suggest he won’t be strenuously courting South Bay conservatives with as much vigor as Swalwell exhibited last year to justify an ends to his own means.