It remains to be seen whether the leaked emails reported this week from Rep. Mike Honda congressional office and hinting at unethical behavior will become newsworthy/ Honda’s challenger, Ro Khanna, is surely making political hay out of it and will continue to do so from here to Nov. 4.
But, the San Jose Inside article does represent the kind of campaign serendipity that suggests to a candidate the electoral gods might be on their side. Khanna’s team said they had no inkling about the emails that show Honda’s congressional staff may been dangling spots to potential campaign donors for an event hosted by the U.S. State Department last year in Santa Clara. That is, not until the story published last Wednesday was about to be put to bed last Monday. Khanna’s campaign declined to comment for the alt-weekly article, but later staged a press conference to highlight his supporters had filed an official ethics complaint.
What likely occurred is the source holding the emails contacted San Jose Inside because it knew the newspaper and the reporter, Josh Koehn, had previously written less-than-positive stories on Honda. Whether the allegation has enough substance to affect the Honda’s re-election is probably low. After more than a decade in Washington Honda is hardly the face of Beltway corruption. Moreover, congressional offices straddle the line between crossing over to the re-election campaign all the time. At this point, the allegations are akin to driving 75 mph in a 65 mph zone and the level of deceit is quite low. In addition, the emails clearly show they were communicating how far is too far. However, the laws of gravity do not apply to political campaigns and perception is almost as good as reality.
Heading into the make-or-break televised debate on Oct. 6, Khanna has been given two giant hammers to wield that night. One offers reasonable doubt for undecided voters and another allows him to mock Honda’s tech cred, or, lack thereof. If Khanna merely strings together these words: Congress, unethical behavior, State Department and Honda, it conveys some sort of Watergate deceit going on in Honda’s office. Second, the fun tidbit in the San Jose Inside article showing Honda needed help to hook up his Netflix account to his Apple TV is a rib-tickling scene for Silicon Valley nerds who think the Big Bang Theory is the funniest 30 minutes of their life. Overall, if this campaign finance story becomes a steady stream of bad press for Honda, it will be an interesting October in the South Bay. What Khanna wants regular voters in the 17th District to say and, conversely, what Honda don’t want them to utter is the word “again,” as in again?!
Can you hear me now?: Assemblyman
HERE AND THERE If Rep. Mike Honda is able to win re-election he will have done it without a single publication in the South Bay giving him a journalistic fair shake. Only in San Jose, it seems, is the alternative newspaper going after a progressive candidate…San Leandro mayoral candidate Dan Dillman received a few guffaws a few weeks back when he told members of the city’s African American business group that he was black. Dillman said it with a sly grin, but afterwards more than a few rolled their eyes at the assertion…Months ago in Hayward’s 20th Assembly District race, Republican challenger Jaime Patino charged Assemblymember Bill Quirk with receiving answers to questions posed at a candidates forum through a listening device. It turns out, at times, Quirk uses a hearing aid. At a recent forum in Fremont, Quirk used two hearing aids and joked with Patino about it. Patino responded by saying, “Can you hear me?”…Interesting factoid in Berkeley’s 15th Assembly District: If Tony Thurmond is able to beat fellow Democrat Elizabeth Echols, he will be the first black member of the Legislature north of Los Angeles since Oakland Assemblymember Sandre Swanson was termed out in 2012…A candidate named Dale Price is running for a seat on the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District. His red signs litter the San Ramon suburbs and feature one ill-advised artistic touch. Playing off his surname, the signs are designed like price tags, as in, for how can this politician be bought?…Vote-by-mail ballots go out next Monday, Oct. 6, so don’t forget to vote and remember to add correct postage!