CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | How times have changed. A year ago, the main talking point in the 17th Congressional District was the distinct money advantage the challenger, Ro Khanna, held over the 14-year incumbent Rep. Mike Honda. Over the past few months the advantage disappeared as Khanna went into early spending mode. However, third quarter campaign finance reports released Wednesday covering activity between July 1 to Sept. 30 show the role-reversal could be permanent.

Honda reported $964,000 in the bank

through Sept. 30.

Honda now holds a nearly five-to-one advantage over Khanna in cash remaining through Sept. 30. Khanna, meanwhile, spent nearly twice as much as Honda during the same period, following a 20-point loss at the polls last June.

Honda raised $412,167 during the third quarter while spending $450,861. He carries $964,638 toward the final two months of the campaign, while carrying no debt. If Honda can continue the moderate spending and still win re-election, his next campaign in two years will have a modest down payment in case Khanna chooses to mount a rematch.

Khanna garnered $323,291 in contributions, but spent $972,139 during the late summer period. Khanna now holds a campaign-low $218,106 in the bank, but also reported $140,980 in debt. Honda’s campaign used the paltry figure, for this race, to declare in a press release late Wednesday night, the Khanna campaign was “broke” and potentially in danger of not being able to meet payroll.

“With less than 20 days to go until Election Day, Ro Khanna is 15 points down and in the position of deciding whether to spend his little remaining cash on his large staff or on continued attacks on Congressman Honda. Our campaign has nearly $1 million in cash, $900,000 more than Khanna, and we are just now starting to spend the majority of our resources when voters are paying the most attention to the election,” said Honda Campaign Manager Doug Greven.

Last Monday, Khanna’s campaign released a poll showing the race tied at 38 percent. Hours later, Honda’s campaign produced their own survey showing their candidate up 15 points, 42-27 percent.
Nonetheless, the campaign finance numbers serve as a snapshot in time. In this case, Khanna’s decision to spend early and often may be akin to an America’s Cup yachtsman tacking too earlier, while the competition stayed patient and waited for a strong breeze.