Monday, December 16, 2013

CA-17: Ro Khanna gives an Interview to Calbuzz

The biggest inter party congressional challenge in California is Ro Khanna's challenge to Congressman Mike Honda in the CA-17 Silicon Valley seat. Khanna has done an interview with Calbuzz, one that shows his path to victory and a potential misstep.

“one of the strongest progressives we have in Congress . . . facing a corporate-backed challenger whose big money donors are intent on buying Mike’s congressional seat.”

Honda appears ready to run on his progressive bonafides. And that's the way to beat him. So far there's no Republican in the race. If there's 0 or 2, Khanna should have no problem getting enough of the vote to make top two. And getting past the primary could be a big stumbling block. It's no coincidence that the two Democrats who knocked off sitting congressmen, Gloria Negrete-McLoud and Eric Swalwell, didn't have a Republican in the primary field. They finished behind their opponents but sailed to the general anyway. And then they were able to use Top Two to win.

If there is a Republican, even a weak one, making top two becomes more of a challenge. Republican Evelyn Li got 28% of the primary vote and she didn't have any money to spend. Republicans, and right leaning independents, will vote for anyone with an R next to their name instead of a Democrat. So it may be a challenge to keep a Republican low enough to finish second in a primary. It's certainly not impossible. CA-30 has more Republicans than CA-17 and both Brad Sherman and Howard Berman easily beat the combined Republican vote.

If Khanna gets through the primary, then he needs to paint Honda as an old out of touch progressive who isn't business friendly and capture the moderate Democratic/independent vote as well as the Republican vote. That's how Eric Swalwell did it last year. He won't want to slam progressives and Swalwell certainly didn't take positions that'd turn Democrats against him. There are plenty of people in the district who are green on the environment but would like to see someone who won't vilify them for being wealthy.

Khanna isn't helping himself, however, in the interview with language like, "I would put the blame on the Tea Party." If you're Khanna you want to publicly be bland on conservatives, Republicans, and the Tea Party, through the primary and then for the general assure them that while you're a good Democrat, but that they'll be better off with you than Honda.

Will Khanna get that?

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