South Bay Democrats are upset over the inclusion
of a graphic implying Ro Khanna has the support
of the Democratic Party.

Voters in the fiercely-competitive 17th Congressional District received an eight-page mailer from Ro Khanna last weekend meant to reintroduce his campaign to voters in the South Bay. However, the mailer also includes a sticker with an old logo of the Democratic National Committee and tagline that party leaders say will mislead voters into incorrectly thinking the upstart challenger facing Rep. Mike Honda this June has the endorsement of the state party.

The graphic located on the back of the mailer includes photos of Khanna’s Democratic endorsers including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, along with a passage from a newspaper editorial supporting his candidacy. Included, though, at the bottom is a badge featuring a discontinued red, white, and blue kicking donkey logo last used by the Democratic National Committee in 2010. The graphic also includes the tagline, “Endorsed by Democrats.”

The back page of the Khanna mailer received 
by voters this week displays the names and 
faces of prominent Dems who back his campaign.

Some South Bay Democrats took umbrage with the Khanna’s mailer for stretching the truth. Sunnyvale Councilmember Jim Griffith received the mailer earlier this week and said he was disappointed with the connotation of Khanna as the party’s choice. “My initial reaction was this is pretty dishonest,” said Griffith, who was a delegate to the state convention last March. “It’s true that he has the support of some Democrats, but his intention is to deceive,” said Griffith. He believes the inclusion of the party logo on the mailer was deliberate. “It’s cheap and unbecoming of someone who wants to be a congressman,” he said.

Santa Clara County Democratic Party Chair Steve Preminger had no response on the content of Khanna’s mailer, but added, “I want to make sure there’s no confusion that the party, through its extensive endorsement process, strongly supports Mike Honda’s re-election to Congress.”

The impetus behind the large mailer, said Khanna, is to reintroduce him to the district in time for the June primary. Honda defeated Khanna by less than four points in November 2014.The mailer includes biographical information about the candidate along with photos of his family.

Khanna’s campaign is standing by the mailer. “It’s entirely accurate. And of all people, Mike Honda should know that Ro Khanna has attracted the endorsement of dozens of prominent, progressive Democrats. After all, several of these Democrats dropped their endorsement of Honda to support Ro,” said Khanna spokesperson Hari Sevugan.

Honda’s campaign, however, said the mailer is part of a trend, while referencing a somewhat similar incident during Khanna’s initial run for Congress as a 26-year-old anti-war candidate challenging long-time Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos.

“Ro Khanna is once again trying to mislead voters like he did in 2004 when he falsely claimed to have President Clinton’s endorsement, said Honda campaign spokesperson Vedant Patel. “It is obvious that he is willing to do and say whatever it takes to be a Member of Congress. Make no mistake, the California Democratic Party doesn’t share Ro’s corporate vision of trampling on the middle class and neither do the voters of the 17th district.”

Honda’s supporters in local government might be upset with the Khanna mailer for good reason since winning the endorsement proved a bit more difficult than usual for the incumbent congressman. Before Honda won the state party’s endorsement at its state convention last March, he failed by two votes to snag the party’s backing during an earlier pre-endorsement meeting in Oakland.

This led to a floor discussion at the convention, which Honda easily won, but not before the presence of an anti-Khanna mailer surreptitiously placed beforehand on delegate’s seats. The mailer depicted Khanna as a puppet of the Republican Party. The Honda campaign denied involvement and some South Bay insiders now believe the mailer was the work of an unnamed labor group.