In better times: President Obama and Rep.
Mike Honda in early 2013.
Over the weekend, it was reported the president would not be making an endorsement in the rematch between two Democrats. In their previous race, Obama endorsed Honda unusually early in the contest—a full 16 months before the June 2014 primary, which Honda won.
But, Honda isn’t take no for an answer this time around.
Following the results of Saturday night’s endorsement of his campaign by the statewide Democratic Party, Honda said he plans to give the president a phone call in a few weeks to discuss the matter.
“I think the allegation was that I was rejected—that I had lost his endorsement because he endorsed me last time and he’s taking his time,” said Honda. “He’s got things on his mind.”
When asked what the president’s backing means in the race, Honda responded, wryly, “I would like to have it. So would my opponent.”
Some of the speculation around Obama’s withdrawal of his endorsement has surrounded uncertainty over Honda’s pending House ethics investigation. Some local Democratic Party insiders, however, believe the snub is retaliation for Honda opposing the president’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, reviled by labor unions.
Adding fuel to the belief TPP is the real reason for Obama’s removing his support, many note, is Honda, a strong defender of labor unions, only last month offered official opposition to the trade bill. Khanna also opposes TPP.
On Saturday night, Honda also deflected accusations by Khanna that the party’s endorsement process is rigged toward incumbents, which in many cases, have appointed most of the voting delegates.
During his remarks, Khanna predicted he would lose the endorsement vote, which he did, 48-7, with 2 no endorsements.
“He didn’t say that when the clubs voted. I didn’t challenge him on that,” said Honda, referring to a number of once loyal South Bay Democratic clubs that had voted recently to issue no endorsement in the race.
Then there's that mysterious hit piece that was placed on seats in the caucus area before Saturday's endorsement vote at the California Democratic Convention. No group has taken credit for the piece depicting Khanna as a puppet of the Republican Party. And Honda and his campaign strongly denied involvement.
Meanwhile, Khanna's campaign is suing the indident to its advantage. A fundraising email highlighting the anti-Khanna flier was sent Tuesday morning to supporters.