Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The new Ro strikes a populist pose

Ro Khanna is running for Congress again. An official announcement is expected Saturday, but according to his Twitter page, he has hardly been coy about his intentions.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Ro Khanna walked into the Sunnyvale City Council chambers last week as a former congressional candidate with talking points that often hovered around the center of the political spectrum and left a new man.

Khanna, who lost an insurgent bid for the 17th Congressional District last fall, will officially launch a second campaign for Rep. Mike Honda's seat this Saturday morning in Santa Clara. Last November, Khanna fell less than four percentage points short of upsetting Honda.

So, how does Khanna expect to close the gap in 2016? Earlier on, it appears Khanna intends to circle back to his populist roots.

Looking noticeably more well-fed than he did during the 2014 race, Khanna appeared before the Sunnyvale City Council on May 19 and spoke in favor of a union-supported local hire ordinance. The item was precipitated by complaints that developers are relying on the heavy use of out-of-state workers and day laborers for construction projects in the city.

In his public remarks, Khanna highlighted the soaring wealth of Silicon Valley while referencing the median wage needed for a one-bedroom apartment in Sunnyvale is $100,000 a year. "It's painfully obvious not everybody is participating in this economy," he said. Khanna then amplified the populism.

"I hope Sunnyvale will not just be looked at as a leader in innovation, but also as a model around the Bay Area and country for building an inclusive economy," said Khanna. "At the end of the day, we can have innovation that does not leave so many people behind."

During the long 2014 election, Khanna never really veered far from his left-of-center roots, but the intense media coverage of campaign contributions from the tech titans of Silicon Valley, along with Honda's easy delineated progressive credentials, may have pigeon-holed Khanna to a less productive set of voters in the district.

In addition to Honda's unfortunate sleepy spell on the House floor earlier this year, Khanna 2.0, for the early going at least, might be looking to pry a few of Honda's fingers off the tight grip of progressives the congressman now enjoys.


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