Ro Khanna, who was once an official in the Obama administration, announced Tuesday he is planning to launch a primary bid against Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., despite Honda being endorsed by party leaders including Obama himself, the Hill reports.
Obama appointed the 36-year old Khanna Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Commerce Department back in 2009.
Besides Obama, Honda has been endorsed by a host of big-name Democrats, including California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York.
There is speculation that those endorsements were meant to keep Khanna from pursuing the House seat.
Khanna appears to have an uphill battle in the Silicon Valley district.
Honda, 71, has been on the Capitol Hill for more than a dozen years.
During that time, he has forged close relationships with those in the Asian-American and tech communities as well as with Democratic leaders, and served as the longtime vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Honda’s campaign recently made public a poll showing him leading Khanna 57 percent to 5 percent.
Khanna’s connection to Obama may be the very thing that provides him some real hope.
Many top Obama campaign staffers have signed on to work for him, among them Jeremy Bird, Obama’s 2012 national field director; Steve Spinner, a major Obama campaign fundraiser who is chairing Khanna’s campaign; and Larry Grisolano, who ran Obama’s paid media efforts in both 2008 and 2012.
Khanna has brushed aside any perceived tension with party leaders and said the race centered on his ideas rather than trying to triumph over Honda.
“I have respect for Mike Honda’s many years of service,” Khanna said.
“The race is not against a particular person, that’s the old way of looking for things in Washington. I’m running because I believe I have ideas and solutions that will help the country and help Silicon Valley and help job growth.
Political endorsements aren’t going to determine the outcome of this race. What’s going to matter is whose ideas are better suited to match the needs of people in the district.”
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