Ro Khanna says Rep. Mike Honda’s latest
political ad contains racial innuendo.

It may be the most biting and deprecating political ad in the Bay Area this election cycle. Rep. Mike Honda’s 30-second hit on Ro Khanna released Thursday, asserts with comical flair that his challenger is beholden to Wall Street interests.

The ad, which began running on television today, uses an actor to play Khanna riding in a limousine. Khanna’s character, whose face is never seen, takes phone calls from rich special interests using greetings such as, “Yo,” “Hey, whatcha need?” and “I’m here for ya.”

But in a Facebook posting Thursday afternoon, Khanna called the spot racist.

“Mike Honda aired this ad today on broadcast TV,” Khanna wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page. “It has an actor impersonating me, and is filled with racial innuendo and false facts. It’s sad that these are the ugly tactics Mike Honda has resorted to in order to hold on to power.”

Vedant Patel, communication director for the Honda campaign, said Khanna’s allegation is a smokescreen. “Like a boy who cries wolf Ro Khanna is once again making false allegations. He is using the very serious issue of racism to divert people’s attention away from things like his support of corporate tax breaks and other Republican policies, the millions of dollars he gets from Wall Street banks, Russian-style cyber theft or any of the other ways he has cheated to try and get ahead.”

The ad begins: “Some politicians are bought and paid for even before stepping foot in office. Just look at Ro Khanna’s donor list,” the narrative in the ad says. It also includes a reference to a non-partisan report earlier this year that found Khanna received more contributions from Wall Street interests this election cycle than any other non-incumbent congressional candidate in the country. Khanna later dismissed the report’s methodology.

An attack ad against Ro Khanna from the 2014 primary
contains a similar outsourcing theme.

In many ways the new Honda ad is a resuscitation of an attack line used periodically to claim Khanna backs outsourcing jobs overseas. A mailer sent prior to the June 2014 primary asserted this same sentiment. But the mailer also caught flak for its suspected use of racial politics. Khanna is Indian American.

In addition, the same San Jose Mercury News article purported to contain statements by Khanna backing outsourcing two years ago is also cited in today’s ad. The 2011 article, however, appears to show Khanna believed the opposite. But other outlets not referenced by the Honda campaign reportedly quote Khanna saying outsourcing is an “economic reality.”

NOTE: This article was updated Oct. 13, 9:30 p.m. to include quotes from the Honda campaign.