SAN JOSE (KCBS)— One of the most closely watched Congressional races in the nation is happening right here in Silicon Valley. A vulnerable Democrat is in danger of losing his seat after 14 years in the House to this year’s upstart from his own political party.
37-year-old Ro Khanna, an attorney, Stanford economics professor, and former Obama Commerce Department official, is going door-to-door in Silicon Valley, making the case that he, and not Mike Honda, should represent California’s 17th Congressional District.
“I think he’s lost touch with the district and he’s become emblematic of a broken Congress and I have offered ideas of not taking special interest money, not taking PAC [Political Action Committee] money, but getting something done in Congress, building coalitions and I’ve been really engaged in the local community,” Khanna said.
Khanna argued that he’s got the energy and tech savvy the local economy needs.
“I teach economics at Stanford, I wrote a book on how to bring advanced manufacturing jobs back to the area. I have concrete ideas for how to create jobs in this district, how to help young people prepare for those jobs,” Khanna said.
However, after seven terms in the House, Honda’s not about to give up.
He’s been slamming Khanna in mailers, waging a campaign the Congressman insists is not negative.
“I only share the facts and the truth and clarify. That’s usually my style,” said Honda.
Honda, 72, told KCBS he gets things done in Congress, behind the scenes, calling himself a “shadow warrior”.
“People know the kinds of results I brought in. Things that brought in funds that created jobs like the BART to San Jose,” Honda said, noting that work on the transit line is underway.
The Honda-Khanna battle overshadows the two Republicans in the race— executive recruiter Joel Van Landingham and Stanford anesthesiologist Vanila Singh.
Regardless of party and with the top two advancing from Tuesday’s primary election in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, it’s likely the intramural battle between the incumbent and the upstart, Khanna will go on until November and will become even more bruising.
“It’s time for a change and I don’t think he’s been effective ultimately in representing the district,” Khanna said.