Khanna to Santa Clara County Dems: Did my invite to the picnic get lost in the mail?

Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna
was upset that he was shut out of the “party.”

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT |
Face it, Ro. They’re not going to love you until they have to. Despite winning the June primary, Democrat Ro Khanna still can’t get any respect from Santa Clara County Democrats who didn’t invite him to their “unity picnic” last Saturday. Instead, they made sure his opponent Rep. Mike Honda addressed the crowd. Khanna registered his criticism on Facebook that afternoon.

“Today, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party had a ‘Unity Picnic’ with all the local Democratic clubs. Mike Honda, who lost the primary, was invited to make a political speech on behalf of his candidacy. I was not. When my campaign manager requested that I be allowed to say a few words for equal time, his request was denied. Honda gave a campaign pitch and his remarks were not official in nature,” wrote Khanna.

We won many of the local Democratic club votes this year. We won the votes of many local Democrats in the primary. Yet the party establishment locally did not provide an opportunity for both candidates to make their case. We were even denied a place to have a table and share our literature!”

It’s not the first time Khanna has clashed with the Democratic Party establishments in Santa Clara and Alameda Counties, and even statewide. In his post, Khanna added, the party needs to be more transparent and allow opposing views to be heard. “People are tired with the system that is designed to protect those in power,” Khanna wrote.

Khanna’s version of the “system is rigged” has been percolating since earlier this year when he delivered a similar diatribe against Alameda County Democrats in January during a pre-endorsement meeting (Watch an excerpt of that speech here). Khanna also criticized a party rule that forced a challenger to gain a requisite number of petitions by eligible caucus voters just to get the endorsement to be debated.

Later, at the party’s statewide convention in February, Khanna again slammed the process that allowed an incumbent like Honda to need a lower threshold of support to gain the valuable backing of the party. The endorsement meeting also included a mysterious flyer surreptitiously placed on delegates seats and believed to have been the work of forces within labor strongly supporting Honda.

Shortly after Khanna told KQED radio, “The rules are rigged. There’s a group of people trying to hold onto their power by appointing their friends, who will decide who gets the party’s endorsement. It’s a vestige of the past.”

But, if there’s one certainty in politics, it’s that public officials often determine their next moves by placing a finger to the wind. Despite an on-going ethics investigation against Honda that likely led to his primary upset at the hands of Khanna, the South Bay Democrats uncompromising stance toward sharing their hot dogs and hamburgers with Khanna might mean something about the general consensus of how they believe the November race will go down.

A bit of perspective: At this time four years ago, the East Bay’s congressional slugfest between Pete Stark and Eric Swalwell–the closest local antecedent to the Honda-Khanna races–many Alameda County Democratic leaders were already planning an exit strategy in advance of a new Democratic congressman in town. And that was after Stark actually won the June primary, whereas Honda did not. yet the hedging of bets by local Dems is not yet fully evident.

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