CADEM NOTEBOOK: Obama slights Mike Honda; won’t endorse in CA17

CADEM16 | CA17 | President Obama is quietly distancing himself from Rep. Mike Honda, or at least, deciding to not take sides in the incumbent’s rematch against  fellow Dem Ro Khanna.

Politico reported Thursday that Obama is not renewing his endorsement of Honda. No reason was given for the president staying neutral in the Dem-on-Dem primary clash likely to be reprised in the fall.

In the 2014 congressional race, Honda immediately trumpeted Obama’s endorsement against Khanna and his growing campaign war chest. In fact, Honda made the announcement a full 16 months before the June 2014 primary.

The tenor of the endorsement so early in the campaign struck some as desperation and a clue Honda’s campaign feared the threat by Khanna, a former Obama appointee to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Honda defeated Khanna by just under four points in November 2014.

This time around, Honda will be on his own and feeling may becoming too familiar in recent months. The loss of Obama’s support matches a distinct narrative seen at the grassroots level in and around Silicon Valley. Numerous local Democratic clubs once viewed as Honda strongholds have issued a round of no endorsements in recently.

A similar sense of uncertainty over Honda and his pending House ethics investigation led to his inability to register enough support by Alameda County Democrats to win the party’s backing at the pre-endorsement meeting on Jan. 30. Now, Honda is forced to wrap up the endorsement at this week’s convention.

CA17 | Honda poised for winning state endorsement Saturday
Rep. Mike Honda fell just two votes shy of gaining the 70 percent of voters needed to win the party’s endorsement last month. Now, he has to continue the fight at this weekend’s convention.

“We’re very optimistic,” said Vedant Patel, political director for the Honda campaign. “The numbers are in our favor.”

The state party has always endorsed Honda and this year will be no different, he added, despite a clear narrative put out by the Khanna campaign that the grassroots are pulling away from the incumbent Honda.

However, don’t expect much drama from Saturday’s vote. As opposed to the pre-endorsement round, Honda, as an incumbent, needs only 50 percent of the vote. Khanna, meanwhile, needs 60 percent.

Honda and Khanna will address delegates on Saturday during an endorsement vote scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. Watch the livestream of the meeting here at EBCitizen.com and on the @eastbaycitizen Twitter feed.

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