Debate, as in Singular, not Plural, says Honda’s Campaign

Rep. Mike Honda, Ro Khanna and Joel
Vanlandingham at a May 3 forum in Fremont.

CONGRESS | DISTRICT 17 | Ro Khanna reiterated his desire for five monthly debates from now to the November Election in a letter Tuesday to Rep. Mike Honda. However, there may only be one debate, if Honda’s campaign has its way.

“Congressman Honda has committed to participating in a debate before the general election, and we have not finalized the details yet,” said Vivek Kembaiyan, the Honda campaign’s communication director.

Following the lone candidate’s forum on May 3–exactly one month from the June primary–Honda told reporters he would debate Khanna sometime in the fall. The same night, Khanna reacted to the news by suggesting five debates on specific issues confronting the 17th Congressional District. Honda’s acquiescence that night ended months of prodding by Khanna and some local newspapers who also called for debates between the two front runners.

But, during an endorsement meeting last month with the San Francisco Chronicle, when pressed on the issue of debates, Honda said, “At this time I will commit to some debates.”

In the letter, Khanna’s campaign, though, voiced displeasure toward Honda over two prior attempts to negotiate logistics for the debates. “While I am encouraged that you have publicly committed to participate in debates in the general election, I am concerned that your team has not yet responded to our repeated efforts to arrange these important meetings,” wrote Khanna. “Ambassador Jeff Bleich from my campaign team has reached out to your campaign manager twice already but has received no response.”

In the weeks preceding the June primary, which Honda won by a 21-point margin, the campaign took on a distinctive negative tone, highlighted by personal attacks and one controversial mailer sent by an independent expenditure committee in favor of Honda. Though not connected to Honda’s campaign, the mailer insinuated an unflattering Indian stereotype against Khanna, who is of Indian American descent.

“It’s clear that debates are needed to make certain that misinformation and false attacks don’t take over the general election in the same way that they did in the final weeks of the primary,” wrote Khanna. “Voters deserve better.”

NOTE: Additions were made to this article regarding Honda’s comments in May to the Chronicle.

10 thoughts on “Debate, as in Singular, not Plural, says Honda’s Campaign

  1. Wow, looks like Honda is already backtracking. Back in his Editorial Board meeting with the Chronicle, he agreed to “some” debates. Just watch the video at 30:49

    I hope he'll follow through — with two Dems in the race, it's important to see where he and Khanna contrast on the issues.


  2. LOL at June 18 9:31 am. I hope you aren't planning a career in political campaigns. That analysis is laughable


  3. I agree, any debate backlash against Honda will be insignificant, if any. Not even sure why Honda would do this period, a debate is not necessary when you have a good record. If this is the worst the Khanna campaign can say about Honda, then Ro is in big trouble.


  4. Nice try staffer, but you and I both know Khanna has only a very small chance of winning. You might want to see if Honda has any staff openings?


  5. Khanna launched campaign polling at 5% then 15% then 21% and got 28% of the vote on June 3. Honda won the 2012 primary with 66% of the vote and got 48% this time. So Khanna spends $2.5mm and goes up 460%. Honda spends $1mm and goes DOWN 30%. Looks like Khanna invested his $$ and Honda wasted his $$.


  6. Khanna has spent $2.5 million to get his message across. All that money yet he stayed basically the same since the beginning of the year.

    Just how much more is he gonna spend?


  7. When you are the front runner by a large percentage, you don't even have to debate. Honda's a nice guy for even doing one. he will win big!


  8. Not next issue…..that's exactly what the Honda camp wants. I hope the press and the voters don't let him and his staff get away with it.

    This is about a man's word, his integrity, his honor. Honda got caught by the press at the forum and by the Chron editorial board. He committed to a number of debates. I realize his staff is freaking out, but this race is too important, too high profile for voters not to be allowed to compare and contrast. I understand Honda's weak on issues and how he carries himself, however, if he wants to represent Silicon Valley, he's gotta show a strong grasp of policy. If not, he should step down. Congress is not the Supreme Court…it's not a lifetime seat.


  9. “Honda won't debate” as a issue is worth 100 points
    “Honda will only debate once” as a issue is worth about 10 points

    Chance of 5 debates, zero
    Chance of more than 1 debate, minimal.

    Making Honda's unwillingness to debate more than once, as a issue, won't cost him many votes.
    Certainly not a many as he stands to lose in multiple debates.

    Next issue…


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