Incumbent Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) has lost several staff members following his surprise narrow defeat to two-time competitor, fellow Democrat, and former Obama administration trade official Ro Khanna during the June 7 California primary.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Honda’s field director Andrew Munson, finance director Sudip Dutta, and deputy finance director Nicole Nabulsi have left the eight-year incumbent’s campaign.
Khanna beat Honda by 1.7 percentage points during what is known as the “jungle primary,” where the top two vote-getters proceed to the November general election regardless of party affiliation. The current primary results are vastly different from the outcome in June of 2014, when Khanna placed 20 percentage points behind Honda.
The primary results, coupled with an ongoing ethics investigation into the blurring of lines between campaign and government work by Honda’s staff, could make it more difficult for Honda to raise funds for his re-election efforts in the 17th district.
The Mercury News suggests that some members of Honda’s campaign might be giving up. The publication notes that Honda spokesman Vedant Patel said the staff exits were just business as usual.
“We appreciate all the hard work people have done on the campaign, and they left for personal reasons or to pursue other opportunities,” Patel told the Mercury News. “It is not unusual for such staff changes to take place after the primary,” he added.
The 17th District congressional race was among the most expensive during the 2014 election year. Khanna has been able to garner strong support from heavy hitters in the tech industry, including executives from top-tier companies such as Yahoo, Google and Facebook. The 17th District is the largest Asian-American majority House district outside of Hawaii. Both Honda’s and Khanna’s ethnic backgrounds represent the Asian demographic that dominates the region — East Asian and South Asian, respectively.
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