A direct-mail piece from Ro Khanna’s campaign calling out Rep. Mike Honda drew the attention of former Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean.

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | For East Bay Democrats, which is a worse act of apostasy? Attacking a fellow Democrat for being too liberal or granting an exclusive interview with conservative website, Breitbart.com? It doesn’t matter. By Wednesday, Ro Khanna had done both.

Ro Khanna

In a mailer to voters in the 17th Congressional District, Khanna labeled fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Honda “an old school liberal.” The piece also asserted through various newspaper citations that Honda supports repealing Bush-era tax cuts. The mailer is a clear bid for conservative votes in the South Bay, but it also attracted the ire of former Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean. (Click on the mailer below to read the full text.)

In an email from Democracy for America, the progressive group founded by the former presidential candidate, Dean declared, “Being a “liberal” isn’t an insult, it’s a badge of honor.” Dean has inserted himself in this race before. Earlier this year, he highlighted Khanna’s strong support from moneyed Silicon Valley interests.

In addition, there have been signs in recent weeks that Khanna was preparing to move even further to the right. During the local televised debate, Oct. 6, he often referenced his embrace of bipartisanship in the Republican-controlled House, while making two specific references to nearby Rep. Eric Swalwell, who, like Khanna is a moderate Democrat who successfully defeated Pete Stark, another long-time progressive representative in the 15th District.

In this context, it is not surprising, Khanna granted an interview with Breitbart which featured the headline, “Republicans could decide Silicon Valley race between Democrats.” Khanna relies heavily on utilizing Swalwell’s 2012 playbook to defeat Pete Stark. In the interview, Khanna told the web site, he would work with Republicans in the House and Honda is “out of touch” and “ideologically extreme.” However, the one strategy Swalwell never really used was to call out his opponent for being too liberal.