California’s 17th Congressional district seat remains hotly-contested between Honda and Khanna. The two squared off in the 2014 election cycle in which Honda prevailed by less than 5,000 over the Indian American Stanford professor.
The endorsement for Honda at the state’s Democratic Convention, held Feb. 26 through Feb. 28 in San Jose, Calif., comes just a month after the delegates were unable to endorse a candidate at the Jan. 28 pre-endorsement conference.
The campaign of Honda’s Democratic challenger, Indian American Ro Khanna, however, was encouraged by the developments simply because Honda had to go to the convention to get the endorsement. “The entire (endorsement process) is rigged to protect the incumbent,” Khanna campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan told the media. The endorsement process has three rounds for the party to give its endorsement, with incumbents not getting endorsed if more than 20 percent, 30 percent or 50 percent oppose each round, respectively.
Honda did not receive 80 percent support in the first round, setting up the pre-endorsement conference in which he failed to secure the 70 percent needed. The fallout from that led to the February convention in which he needed 50 percent of the delegates’ support. “It’s embarrassing for Honda that it even got to this point,” Sevugan said, adding that the majority of the delegates voting are appointed by Honda or his allies.
Despite receiving the endorsement, Honda continues to lose support of many dignitaries, who are siding with Khanna in his campaign efforts. Among those shifting gears in 2016 are California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and the Laborers International Union of North American Pacific Southwest Region.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone have endorsed Democratic challenger Ro Khanna to represent the 17th Congressional District — a triple blow to Rep. Mike Honda.
None of the three prominent local Democrats endorsed either candidate last year during their first showdown that ended with Honda, D-San Jose, beating Khanna by 3.6 percentage points. And none, at least in their initial statements, hinted that the House Ethics Committee’s ongoing probe of blurred lines between Honda’s office and campaign influenced their endorsements.
The state’s 17th Congressional district includes much of California’s Silicon Valley cities such as Sunnyvale, Cupertino and Santa Clara, as well as north San Jose, Milpitas, Fremont and Newark. Many Indian American Silicon Valley luminaries have thrown their support behind Khanna. The primary election is scheduled for June 7 with the general election on Nov. 8.