Rohit Khanna, an Indian American attorney from Fremont, CA is reported to have won the primary with the narrowest of victories over incumbent Mike Honda in the primary elections on June 7 in his fight for California’s 17th Congressional District where. Khanna totaled 38.3 percent of the vote while Honda earned 38.1 percent. A total of 33,785 voters sided with the 39-year-old challenger, 177 more than Honda’s 33,608 votes.
“This is an astounding upset and an amazing victory for the people of the 17th District,” Khanna said in a written statement. The 17th Congressional District covers Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara, north San Jose, Milpitas, Fremont and Newark. “The people want a representative in Congress that is ready to get to work for them.”
The grassroots campaign has flipped the recorded net contributions in Honda’s favor, but because the Democratic incumbent is battling the House Ethics Committee for allegations he had congressional aides perform campaign work during government business hours, the candidates’ cash-in-hand was heavily tilted in Khanna’s favor, $1.96 million to $792,208, according to recent financing reports.
In the 2014 primary election, Honda handily defeated Khanna by more than 20 percent of the vote. The two met again in the general election later that year, with Khanna gaining significant ground. Honda ultimately won the election by a mere 3.6 percent.
“This year, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, alike, sent a strong message,” Khanna said. “The time for politicians that use their office to help themselves and their donors, but not their constituents, is up; the time for politicians that take money from PACs and lobbyists is up; the time for politicians that don’t have the energy, desire or ability to reach across the aisle and get things done is up.”
Meanwhile, Honda delivered a business-as-usual approach in an emailed statement, focusing on his campaign rather than the results. “This campaign and my commitment to public service has always been about expanding opportunities for Silicon Valley’s families,” Honda said. “I am incredibly proud of my track record of delivering for workers, seniors and middle class families. As a senior appropriator I’ve been able to secure millions in funding for the nanotechnology industry and $900 million in funding for (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and other critical investments across the district.”
The incumbent added, “With individuals ready to trample on the middle class bank rolling my opponent’s campaign, we know that this is going to be one of the closest congressional races in the country. I am ready to fight tooth and nail between now and Nov. 8 so I can continue delivering for middle class families and turning progressive ideals into results.”
While celebrating the victory in the primary, Khanna understands there’s ground to be gained if he expects another win in November. “There’s still more work to do on this campaign in the coming months. … With our upset last night, we’re more strongly positioned at the beginning of the general election this year,” he said, adding that with continued support in the grassroots approach, “we’ll celebrate another win in November.”
Rohit “Ro” Khanna is an American teacher, lawyer and politician. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the United States Department of Commerce under President Barack Obama. Khanna is a member of the Democratic Party and was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives in California’s 17th District, which encompasses a large part of Silicon Valley, including Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Cupertino, north San Jose, Milpitas, Fremont and Newark.