At this time of the election calendar, candidates for the fall are meeting with elected officials and other constituents in hopes of securing a big-name endorsement or, at the very least, pad their growing list of supporters. It’s apparently what Jovanka Beckles, a candidate for the open 15th Assembly District seat this November, was attempting to accomplish Sunday by meeting with Rep. Ro Khanna.
Beckles’ campaign had publicized the scheduled meeting with Khanna on its Twitter feed two weeks ago, raising speculation that Khanna, who has moved vigorously over the past year to burnish his progressive credentials, might endorse her campaign over that of fellow Democrat Buffy Wicks.
But Khanna did not pull the trigger on the endorsement of the Democratic Socialist over the weekend. Instead, Beckles’ campaign issued a press release effectively touting Khanna’s words of encouragement.
“I admire Jovanka’s standing up for Richmond against Chevron and her advocacy for the environment. I also appreciate the fund she voted for to support scholarships for Richmond students,” said Khanna, in a press release from Beckles campaign on Sunday.
“That is the type of bold, progressive leadership that will help us create a more just community, state, and nation. It was a pleasure to meet with her and to discuss issues of economic and racial justice.”
Khanna’s flirtation with Beckles is further curious since he shares with Wicks many of the same individuals who also helped him run for Congress in both 2014 and 2016. Wicks has close ties to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election team. That group sought to apply the same then-groundbreaking electoral strategies that fueled Obama’s re-election to other levels of government. One of their initial campaigns was Khanna’s first attempt at unseating Mike Honda in 2014.
The endorsement game, though, has been noticeably treacherous for Khanna as of late. Progressives torched Khanna for initially backing centrist Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley over the Justice Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in last week’s New York primary, despite Khanna being the group’s most high-profile member. Khanna quickly backed down and offered Ocasio-Cortez a dual endorsement.
Now Ocasio-Cortez is the darling of the far-left after trouncing Crowley, who was potentially in line to lead House Democrats in the near future. The major upset has insurgent progressives across the country, including Beckles in the East Bay, hoping for a similar result this fall.
In addition, Khanna is also feeling strong opposition within his own district for offering an early endorsement to Fremont City Council candidate Yang Shao, despite his votes as a current Fremont school board member, in opposition to the LGBT community.