Ro Khanna: “The resilience that I have is not just because I was born in Philadelphia and grew up watching Rocky movies. It’s because this stuff matters.” Khanna announced another run for Congress in CA17 Saturday.
In addition to his 2014 congressional race, Khanna
ran as 27-year-old against former Rep. Tom Lantos.
PHOTOS/Steven Tavares

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Nearly six months after his bid to unseat Rep. Mike Honda fell short, Ro Khanna announced Saturday afternoon he is revving up his campaign for a second shot at his fellow Democrat in 2016.

With a theme of resilience, Khanna and several speakers, highlighted issues leftover from his 2014 campaign, including the environment, strengthening computer education in the classroom, in addition, to a sharper focus on local grassroots issues in the Silicon Valley-centric district.

Khanna also returned to the theme of protecting the American Dream for immigrants like his parents who moved from India to Philadelphia in the 1960s.

“What’s heartbreaking, what’s upsetting,” Khanna said from the steps of the Santa Clara Civic Center, “is something doesn’t quite seem right in this country. For the first time there is an anxiety whether that American Dream that my parents came to this country for, whether that dream is going to exist for this next generation.”

The faces of many of his diverse supporters who attended the weekend announcement reflect what America will look like over the next few decades, said Khanna. A vast majority of school children he’s visited on the campaign trail, he said, tell him they too have parents who are immigrants.
“That was my story [growing up],” he added.

Similar to last year’s race, Khanna used the announcement to focus on successes he believes the campaign achieved for engaging the youth vote often dispirited by politics along with a rebuttal for some fellow Democrats who continue to label him as overly-ambitious.

“People say to me, ‘Wait my turn.’ Maybe, I’ll wait my turn. What about the other 520,000 offices? There’s no one willing to run. There a generation of Americans who no longer believe that politics matters, that politics can accomplish anything. There is a sense that special interests and money has taken over.”

Afterwards, Khanna, 38, said people identify with those who respond positively to setbacks. “The average person is resilient,” he added. “But, what about Honda? He’s run for office seven or eight times. Is he overly-ambitious?”

This will be Khanna’s third campaign for Congress. In addition to his 2014 race in the Seventeenth Congressional District against Honda, which Khanna lost last November by less than four percent, he ran a somewhat symbolic long-shot bid in 2004 as a 27-year-old to unseat Democratic stalwart Tom Lantos in San Mateo.

Ritu Ahuja, Khanna’s fiancée, compared their on-and-off relationship over the past eight years to his political career and chances for winning next year. “Our courtship can be summed up as a first attempt that barely counted,” she told supporters. “A second attempt that came quite close and third attempt that recently landed Ro on one knee, finally getting the response he wanted…I guess, the third time is a charm and Ro never gives up on what truly matters to him.” Their wedding is set for August.

Whereas, Khanna was previously trumpeted as the candidate bringing Silicon Valley-style disruption to Congress, this next campaign may take a slightly different spin on that strategy. “I don’t want to take the thinking of Silicon Valley to Washington,” said Khanna. “I want to take the spirit of the people in this community who believe still in the democratic process to Washington. To say that there can be a better way.”