Rep. Mike Honda, left, fell just short of winning
the Democratic Party's pre-endorsement in
Oakland over Ro Khanna.
The 16-year incumbent, who is facing fellow Democrat Ro Khanna in a rematch of their close fought campaign in the 17th Congressional District, failed to win the requisite percentage of votes Saturday afternoon to secure the party’s endorsement outright.
Honda captured 58 of 86 votes (67.4 percent) at the pre-endorsement caucus in Oakland. Candidates who capture 70 percent of ballots cast are placed on the consent calendar for approval by the statewide party at their convention Feb. 26-28 in San Jose. Honda, though, fell two votes short.
Khanna, who had raised questions about the potential for voting irregularities at the weekend caucus, received just 15 votes, but the tally was enough, including 13 “no endorsement” votes, to block Honda’s smooth path to the valuable backing of the Democratic Party.
Honda, however, is still a favorite to win the endorsement next month, but Saturday’s setback is likely to raise questions of whether Honda’s once rock-solid support among the Democratic rank-and-file is, indeed, wavering in the midst of a still-pending House ethics investigation.
“It’s a huge victory,” said Khanna. “Mike Honda has been in politics for 40 years. He's appointed many of these delegates, so for him to have 30 percent vote against him, it’s a statement of his eroding support.” Khanna, added, he intends to take his argument for the party’s backing to next month's convention.
Honda did not attend Saturday’s pre-endorsement meeting. His campaign said Honda was attending the funeral of a close family member.
Honda's campaign, in a statement, said, “Despite not receiving the 70 percent threshold, our campaign is thankful for the overwhelming support we received from CD-17 pre-endorsement candidates. Sixty-seven percent shows that we have grassroots backing to win in November.
“We know this election is one of the most hotly-contested congressional races in the nation and our campaign will fight tooth and nail through Election Day.”