This weekend, Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna ripped into California’s Democratic establishment, saying the party’s rules are rigged, following an overwhelming endorsement of incumbent Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA).
“I’m fearless,” Khanna, 39, said according to Bay Area public radio station KQED. “The rules are rigged. There’s a group of people trying to hold onto their power by appointing their friends, who will decide who gets the party’s endorsement. It’s a vestige of the past.”
The San Francisco Chronicle noted in January that 24 of the 17th Congressional District’s 87 convention delegates had signed a petition against giving Honda, 74, the automatic endorsement. As a result, Honda became one of three of California’s 39 Democratic members of Congress to face a special pre-endorsement conference this past weekend.
At the time, Khanna’s spokesman Hari Sevugan told the Chronicle that the block was “a breach in Honda’s firewall,” indicating that “people’s feelings have dramatically changed.” Honda was still able to secure the party’s endorsement at last weekend’s convention.
Honda reportedly struck back at Khanna’s accusation that the party machine is rigged. KQED notes he said “Oh come on. For goodness sake. I’m not the one who paid for memberships to load up on Democratic clubs.” He added that he does not believe Khanna’s attacks on Honda’s ongoing ethics investigation will work in his favor. Khanna lost the election to Honda in 2014 by just four percentage points.
Last time, Khanna hadn’t placed as much emphasis on attacking Honda for the looming ethics scandal, but has indicated he intends to proceed full throttle with attacks on the seasoned congressman for his campaign’s alleged blurring of lines between official business and campaign work.
Honda’s personal life story has won the admiration of many constituents with diverse ethnic backgrounds. He and his family were placed into a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Khanna, the child of immigrants, has a touching story of his own. Both of his parents emigrated from India to make a better life for themselves and for their son in America.
Khanna has gained a number of important endorsements from the likes of State Senate President Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles), San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen and longtime Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone. Meanwhile, Honda has countered Khanna with endorsements from Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, Newark Mayor Al Nagy, Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews, and Sunnyvale Mayor Jim Griffith.
One of the most noteworthy endorsements came from the regional laborers’ union, which switched its endorsement of Honda to Khanna this past December.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.