The Tea Party Express is considering backing Silicon Valley Democratic congressional candidate and former Obama trade official Ro Khanna in his race to unseat incumbent Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA17) in one of the most bizarre political races in California.
If the plan materializes, it will be the first time a major Tea Party group is involved in a race between two Democrats and in support of an Obama Democrat.
Former Republican Congressman Ernie Konnyu sent a letter to his constituents last month imploring them to throw their support behind Khanna, according to dailynewsen.com, which acquired a copy of that letter. In his message, which was addressed “TO: All Republicans and Independent Voters,” Konnyu attempted to comfort his addressees by writing “It’s OK! Even Honda called Ro ‘Republican-Lite.'”
The reference was to the Honda campaign accusing Khanna of running proxies by having his supporters working “to get a Republican on the ballot,” just ahead of the June 3 primary, in an attempt to split the vote. California’s newly adopted “jungle” primary (approved by voters in 2010 via Proposition 14), allows for the top two vote-getters to proceed to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Honda and Khanna, as projected by polls, finished in the top two spots, shutting out Republican candidates Vanila Singh and Joel VanLandingham.
Konnyu requested $50,000 in his fundraising letter to support the postage fees for a Tea Party Express-backed mailer attacking Honda. Part of the letter reads, “Tea Party Express is willing to do that mailer provided we cover the postage, printing, and handling expenses. As you probably know, it’s expensive. Printing, postage, and handling can cost perhaps $0.50 cents at minimum or $50,000 for 100,000 letters.”
A few weeks after Konnyu’s mailer reportedly fell on deaf ears he said, “Not one single supporter of mine jumped at financing the idea… As much as local folks dislike Honda for his 447 missed House votes and his around-a-dozen foreign junkets on fat cat paid joy rides, they were not interested in this venture with my former campaign consultant, the Tea Party strategist, Sal Russo.”
The Tea Party Express, however, said that although they “remain undecided” as to whether or not they will be involved with it, the Honda-Khanna race is “on their radar.”
The Khanna camp has reportedly distanced themselves from Konnyu’s Tea Party Express plan. Khanna’s spokesperson Tyler Law said, “Ernie has publicly endorsed Ro, and we’re happy to have his support. That said, he is acting on his own.”
Honda has twice outraised Khanna, despite Khanna having the support of heavy-hitting Silicon Valley tech giants.