Granted, there is still six weeks before voters in the nationally watched 17th Congressional District register all of their votes. Much can still happen in this suddenly raucous and hard-hitting race. But the hit Rep. Mike Honda‘s campaign registered on challenger Ro Khanna last week was one of the most devastating in recent memory. It has everything a campaign would want. It was stealth, timely, well-researched, a well-honed message, and most importantly, strongly reinforced the notion held by some that Khanna will do anything to get elected to Congress. In addition, the plot is straight out of Hollywood. Silicon Valley’s congressional seat roiled by a cyber hacking scandal? A “modern-day Watergate.” You can’t make this up!

Aside from that, the allegation appears legitimate and will likely stick from here to Nov. 8. The narrative is just too solid. Khanna campaign manager Brian Parvizshahi had access to the Honda donor data starting in 2012. Evidence from the Honda fundraising consultant’s Dropbox account shows, as Honda’s campaign calls it, Parvizshahi’s “digital fingerprints” all over the files up until last year. In addition, Parvizshahi’s rise from Khanna’s data director to 25-year-old campaign manager for one of the biggest congressional races in the country seems odd. Parvizshahi’s quick resignation also fuels fire that  wrongdoing may have occurred. These facts should appear believable to voters and that’s all that matters, not whether a lawsuit is allowed to run its course and determine culpability. The Honda campaign doesn’t want anybody to go to jail (we don’t think), they just want their candidate to return to Washington in November.

Rep. Mike Honda, center, with camapign manger
Michael Beckendorf,right, at the state Democratic 
Party Convention in San Jose last February.

This goes the same for Khanna’s gambit this week to ask a U.S. District Court judge to grant expedited discovery in the case. The motion was denied Wednesday evening. But the real reason, Khanna admits, for seeking the motion was an attempt to adjudicate the lawsuit in the court of public opinion by forcing Honda to submit to a deposition sometime before Election Day. Then, Khanna’s attorney would have asked Honda under oath about the case and whether he perjured himself by asserting in the lawsuit that he never seeks out his opponent’s donors. Also likely would have been questions about Honda’s ethics investigation, namely his “1,000 cranes” strategy.

Khanna is in a difficult position now. One he has never experienced during his previous two runs for Congress. This is the first instance where he is being tested not as the stalking horse in the race but the leader of the pack. The perspective is far different and Honda’s bombshell may have put the incumbent back in the race with momentum to overtake Khanna at this most crucial moment in the campaign. At this point, Khanna can only attempt to chip away at  the periphery of the lawsuit, like claiming perjury and labeling it a purely political ploy. Maybe a single debate could change the tide for Khanna (no word on that). But it also appears Khanna will be forced to be highly aggressive (almost dirty) since Honda campaign manager Michael Beckendorf is showing that he prefers to come at Khanna with a frenetic, fast-break style that will not be neutralized by sitting tight and hoping his very small June primary lead holds in November. It appears the winner of this race will be who hits the hardest.

East Bay park district candidates Daniel Chesmore
and Ellen Corbett at a forum Sept. 19 in Oakland.

CORBETT’S BIGGEST FAN Following an Oakland League of Women Voters candidates forum last week for the open Ward 4 seat on the East Bay Regional Park District board being sought by Ellen Corbett, an awkward moment arrived. While chatting to some in attendance, Corbett turned away from the group to speak to another voter, but at the same moment one of her opponents, Daniel Chesmore, outstretched his arms to warmly embrace Corbett. She then looked back, somewhat surprised, and hugged Chesmore before quipping, “My opponent loves me.” Meanwhile, Corbett’s campaign to replace long-time Director Doug Siden, who is retiring from the board, raised just $9,400, according to the latest finance reports. Overall, the former state Senate majority leader’s campaign has more than $25,000 in cash with roughly $6,000 debt. More than enough to win the seat, but how long will Corbett stay at the park district? Just for reference: the Ward 4 seat basically covers the same geographical area as Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan‘s District 3 seat. Chan is up for re-election in 2018.


BOO BIRDS Supporting Republican presidential Donald Trump while also running for the Assembly in Oakland, one of the most progressive areas in the country, is more than a daunting task for 18th Assembly candidate Roseann Slonsky-Breault. She was also a delegate for Trump at the Republican National Convention this summer. In the two-person June primary, Slonsky-Breault received just over 12,000 votes and lost by a whopping 78 percentage points to Democratic Assemblymember Rob Bonta. The rematch almost assuredly will be the same result in November. But it got worse for Slonsky-Breault earlier this month when a group of seniors booed and hissed her for supporting Trump and all things conservative. One witness told the East Bay Citizen the scene was one of the most hilarious of the campaign year.


EVERYBODY LOVES BACON A Goldendoodle named Asbury has again endorsed Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon. However, bias is certainly involved since the canine, who appears in his campaign commercials, belongs to Bacon. The low budget commercials have been part of Bacon’s campaigns since 2008 when Asbury first appeared barking, “Bacon, Bacon, Bacon for Fremont City Council.” Bacon’s newest ads, which appeared this month on CNN, reintroduces his most loyal supporter. So, who is the voice of Asbury? “It’s me,” Bacon admits.


NO MORE QUIRKY DRIVING Assemblymember Bill Quirk‘s 2016 legislative year has focused on the road. Two of Quirk’s bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this year have gotten significant media play. First, his legislation allowing motorcycle riders to legally lane-split received major attention, if not because most people may have believed the practice was already legal. Then this week, Brown signed another Quirk offering that could put a significant crimp on drivers fiddling on their cell phones while driving. Quirk, visiting the Hayward City Council this week and said the new law basically limits driver interaction with their phones to a single swipe to account for ride-hailing drivers and everyone else trying to access maps for navigation, but nothing else. Quirk is facing Republican Luis Wong in November. Quirk won 77 percent of the vote in the two-person June primary.

Assemblymember Catharine Baker, a 
Republican; Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio.

HERE & THERE Republican 16th District Assemblymember Catharine Baker organized a “Taco Tuesday” phone banking event this week… On Friday, the Sacramento Bee reported voting patterns in the State Legislature this session showed business-friendly Democrats siding a tad more with Republicans. But it also showed Baker voted in a similar fashion with Assembly Democrats 80 percent of the time. That flies in the face of rhetoric from her Democratic challenger Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who is arguing Baker is not the moderate Republican she claims to be, but votes in lock-step with conservatives. Maybe so, but not this election cycle…

Berkeley mayoral candidate Zachary RunningWolf was arrested, it was reported this week, for vandalizing a Bank of America building in Oakland during a Sept. 10 protest. A RunningWolf supporter told The Daily Cal that the candidate’s arrest will hamper his chances Nov. 8. “When you can’t be out there campaigning, you’re at a disadvantage. This is called interfering with an election.” RunningWolf is best known for protesting the removal of trees around Cal’s Memorial Stadium by climbing one and refusing to come down…


MEET THE CANDIDATES Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville League of Women Voters forum, Saturday, Oct. 1, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. featuring 13th Congressional District candidates Rep. Barbara Lee and Sue Caro; State Senate 9th District candidates Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson; and 15th Assembly District candidates Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and Claire Chiara

San Leandro City Council District 2 candidates Ed Hernandez and Bryan Azevedo meet a the Eden Area League of Women Voters foru,, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 6 p.m. at the San Leandro Library…

Berkeley mayoral candidates square off Thursday, Oct. 6, 7 p.m. at Berkeley City College’s main auditorium, 2050 Center Street.