The National Journal has Rep. Mike Honda with a commanding lead of 57 percent versus potential challengers Republican Evelyn Li (13%) and possible primary opponent Ro Khanna with 5%. The poll was conducted by the respected firm of Lake Research Partners.
The poll release is another in a series of aggressive steps Honda has taken to cut off a possible challenge from Khanna, a former official in President Obama’s Commerce Department with big-time fundraising connections among Silicon Valley Democrats. It’s not surprising that Khanna is little-known in the poll; he has never held elected office. But he has the funds and the connection to get well-known in a hurry, which is why Honda has responded with such aggression to Khanna’s early moves.
Honda’s camp announced a reelection endorsement by President Obama back in January, just a couple months after the 2012 campaign ended. Honda has also rolled out messages of support from other top Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Commmitee chairman Steve Israel. Honda has already announced his 2014 campaign team, too, in response to early moves by Khanna.
Much of Khanna’s support so far has come from the Indian-American community, but it came with the presumption he would run for an open seat in CD 15. Challenging Mike Honda is another matter altogether. As Varun Nikore, past president of the Indian American Leadership Initiative, told India Abroad: ” [Honda] has done an enormous service to the Indian-American community and continues to do so. He’s mentored countless numbers of Indian-American politicians across the county including Ro. Not because he had to, but because Mike Honda so deeply believes in this cause of empowerment for not only Indian Americans, but for all Asian Pacific Americans… We cannot let the ambitions of one trump loyalty here. If we start going after our friends, who will stand with us in future battles to come? Our successes as a community didn’t just come because an Indian American was at the table fighting for our rights and causes. We were helped by leaders in the larger Asian Pacific American community who helped build broad coalitions and represented our community in our issues, like Patsy Mink, Daniel Inouye, Norman Mineta and Mike Honda. We would be nowhere without them.” Echoing the sentiments, newly elected Indian American congressman Ami Bera told the publication that “in recent years, Mike Honda has done more than any member of Congress to help support and grow Asian-American representation in the House of Representatives. Congressman Honda was instrumental in helping me and other Indian-American candidates build out our races, and gain credibility. He has always been there for us, raising funds, providing advice, and being a mentor.” Bera has apparently been trying to dissuade Khanna from challenging Honda, with little success.
The race has even gotten ink in the NY Times.