Khanna’s Brandishes His Not-So-Secret Weapon—that All-Star Campaign Team

Khanna in a feature last June in Time.

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | In recent months, 17th Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna has kept his campaign team’s tie to President Barack Obama’s re-election bids somewhat quiet. Rarely has he touted his campaign’s prodigious expertise and talent, at least, not since a splashy introduction in Time magazine last June touting Khanna’s all-star team of Obama re-election staffers and their attempt to bring the power of the president’s cutting edge campaign techniques to the congressional level.

In fact, the community canvassing and analytics that seek to squeeze every last bit of Khanna support out of the South Bay district is the big unknown in the race. Can the apparatus used to successfully win two presidential races really work in a House race? And if not, why would campaign veterans with such a distinguish pedigree dare place a bet on a single race, if they were not sure they could upend a somewhat entrenched and popular incumbent? Suffice to say, it’s Khanna not-so-secret weapon. It may have no bearing on the race at the same becoming the deciding factor.

On Monday, Khanna’s campaign referenced the elephant in the room in a press release highlighting its accomplishments in attracting grassroots enthusiasm to the campaign. Using the number of signatures procured by Khanna’s volunteers for placing his name on the June ballot as a proxy—Khanna collected 2,609 signatures to Rep. Mike Honda’s 392, says Khanna’s campaign—they believe the effort is working. “When Ro launched his campaign last year he pledged to invest early in a world-class field operation–he said that the 17th district was going to be treated like a battleground state in a presidential year,” the Khanna campaign said Monday. In additional, a cadre of volunteer neighborhood canvassing teams and meet-and-greet are ready to be deployed, according to the campaign.

The unsaid flexing of Khanna’s considerable resources comes after state Democrats bestowed their endorsement on Honda at this weekend’s party convention in Southern California . Like the pre-endorsement meeting last month, Khanna stayed away from the soiree. Instead, he focused on the campaign trail. Why waste your time in Los Angeles when the state Democrats almost always stick with the incumbent. And now that the June primary ballot is set with four challengers to Honda’ seat, including Khanna, physician Vanila Singh, attorney Vinesh Singh Rathore and tech executive Joel Vanlandingham, expect the push by Khanna for debates with Honda to intensify. And if it doesn’t’ happen now the shrill will only become a loud shriek by the fall. Either way, that suits Khanna well.

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