CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | The race in the 17th Congressional District has long been about Ro Khanna’s large financial advantage over Rep. Mike Honda. But, as the campaigns head into the final stretch of the June primary season, Honda has overtaken Khanna in the money race, although slightly, according to the campaign finance records.
Two weeks from Election Day, Honda reported $1,038,360 in remaining cash through May 17, according to reports released Thursday by the Federal Elections Commission, while Khanna showed $1,009,672. Both campaign appeared to be in spending mode, rather than collecting fundraising checks. Honda raised $181,944 since April 1. Khanna reported $139,427 during the same period.
Over the past two years, Khanna has proven to be a prodigious fundraiser, but also a candidate who has spent huge sums of money. The strategy is not surprising since his campaign lacked early name-recognition, in addition, to facing a long-time incumbent with significant ties to labor and special interests. Since April 1, Khanna spent $1.07 million, while Honda expended $227,459 of his war chest. Over the course of the campaign, Khanna has received $3.8 million in contributions, while spending $2.7 million through May 17. Honda has raised $2.08 million during the same period while spending $1.2 million.
Nevertheless, Honda’s campaign manager, Doug Greven, highlighted the shrinking money advantage. “The fact that Khanna’s campaign feels the need to spend $3 million just to make it into the general election means that Ro Khanna is still not getting any traction with voters, while he is quickly running out of resources.”
Tyler Law, Khanna’s press secretary, said “I’m sure no one is surprised that we made smart investments with our resources ahead of the primary. It’s what helped us reach out to over 240,000 voters, hold 173 meet-and-greets, and introduce Ro on both TV and mail. Ro has built an unparalleled grassroots organization, received every major newspaper endorsement, and stuck to talking about the issues that really matter. Frankly, the Honda campaign wouldn’t have avoided all debates and wouldn't be paying to spread false attacks about Ro if they were confident in their standing with the voters.
Most expect Honda and Khanna will face a fall rematch in the general election. However, the money issue will likely be greatly affected by the outcome of the June 3 primary. Honda is expected to win the primary, but like the 2012 race between Democrats Eric Swalwell and Pete Stark, the real barometer of the race could be the actually point spread between the candidates and whether Honda can garner a majority of the vote. If he does not clear 50 percent, Honda, like Stark before him, may find his fundraising numbers later this year suffer as a result.