Mike Honda Wants to Debate—after Absentee Ballots Go out

For months, Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) has dodged invitations to debate his challenger in the 17th Congressional District race, fellow Democrat Ro Khanna. The incumbent’s waffling on a commitment invoked disapproving editorials from the Bay Area’s major media outlets and a running Twitter hashtag, #WheresMike, that rips his habitual absenteeism in Congress.

But the seven-term congressman may finally have agreed to a debate—it’s just he didn’t consult his opponent on the details.

Huffington Post and San Jose State University are working together to stage the face-to-face match. Honda’s campaign says they agreed to a mid-October date, which a KGO reporter tweeted out Friday, even though it wasn’t confirmed by organizers.

News of the talk-off caught Khanna and most media off-guard. Many wondered how anyone could announce a debate without contacting one candidate. Khanna spokesman Tyler Law also questioned the timing—three weeks ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

“The Honda campaign apparently felt it would be acceptable to hold a debate that a large portion of voters wouldn’t get to see before they cast their ballots,” Law said, noting that vote-by-mail ballots go out Oct. 6.

Honda spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan told San Jose Inside that the campaign received and accepted terms from HuffPo and SJSU. Kembaiyan says he was told the hour-long event would take place either Oct. 14 or 16 and would include: a single moderator with panelists from local press and SJSU faculty, a coin toss to decide order of speakers and questions picked by organizers. Candidates wouldn’t be allowed opening statements but two-minute answers, 90-second rebuttals, maybe one-minute extensions and two-minute closing remarks.

Khanna tweeted to HuffPo Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim Friday that he’d be “happy to participate. But be honest and have it before absentee drops instead of enabling Honda games.”

“We can work with that,” Grim tweeted back. “Will get back to you with a date before ballots drop.” Later, he added that Khanna had made “a reasonable request, to be sure.”

San Jose Inside contacted Grim on Monday to find out if there’s a chance the debate will take place before absentee ballots go out. “I hope so,” he said. “We’re still negotiating.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

17 Comments

  1. Honda is a guy who couldn’t win a debate against the GEICO gecko; and if Honda doesn’t realize it, his handlers surely do. So, as the prohibitive favorite, they inform Mikey that he has nothing to gain and everything to lose by debating. The voters get the shaft yet again, from a pleasant but completely ineffectual incumbent, who is a mere puppet on a string to the Democratic leadership and whatever special interests provide him funds.

    • > The voters get the shaft yet again, from a pleasant but completely ineffectual incumbent, who is a mere puppet on a string to the Democratic leadership and whatever special interests provide him funds.

      Well. This is “Democracy”.

      Maybe we should try something different, like … oh, I don’t know … how about a constitutional republic.

      • How is getting screwed by a Congressman a “democracy?” Seems like a republic to me.

        • > How is getting screwed by a Congressman a “democracy?” Seems like a republic to me.

          What? ! ! ! ! !

          You mean that Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Mike Honda, and the Democrat majority County Board, City Council and South Bay Labor Council have been secretly running a republic and not telling us?

          THAT, Mr. Skunk, is a DEEP conspiracy theory.

    • The democratic leadership is organized labor, the South Bay Labor Council. Plain and simple, without them, Honda would be a retired middle school teacher.

      14 years and he got only 1 bill passed, to name a post office. “My God, that’s Moose Turd Pie!! It’s good, though!”

  2. Honda is a coward. I share his views on most issues and he was my representative up until the recent redistributing. But he is one of the most ineffective members of Congress. His record of bills and amendments becoming law is pathetic. I’m pulling for Khanna if for no other reason than to unset an entrenched incumbent who doesn’t even know his district anymore.

  3. Watch the coward will not debate due to a convict of schedule. All he wants is a pay check and couldn’t care less of us.

  4. What the hell is there to debate between these two buzzards?

    “Resolved that the next member of Congress from the 17th District should be a progressive Democrat in favor of taxing the rich and open borders.”

    Mr. Honda: “Aye”.

    Mr. Khanna: “Aye”.

    Why not just flip a coin.

      • Retire,

        Interesting that we both have the same candidates picked out (Cortese gets my obvious nepotism vote) and Khanna because like others have vexed, Mike has done more brushing off of constituent concerns rather than addressing them.

      • > Vote Khanna.

        Mr. Retired:

        It’s hard to believe that you’re “retired” because it’s hard to believe you’ve ever been employable.

        Being a zombie in a cult of personality really can’t be considered a “job”.

        By the way, does Khanna know that you’re a supporter? Is he happy to be known as the candidate of mindless political groupies? Has he made some promise to your cult that really nailed down the groupie vote?

        Are there any photos on the internet of you with Khanna? If not, why not? I’m suspicious.

        • Yes, photos exist. And the best candidate asked me to permanently seal your underground hole. I will post pictures as soon as Mike Honda actually does a debate. Hope to see you there but I doubt it will really happen.

  5. It’s sad to see a representative pushing aside all the good practices of a beautiful system. It’s surprising we couldn’t find better representative all these years.

  6. I LOVE THIS SITE,
    WHERE ELSE CAN ONE FIND SO MANY A## HOLES, WITH SO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT WHO THEY WANT TO DEFEAT. I HAVE NOT HEARD AN INTELLIGENT FOCUS ON MIKE OR RO.
    WHO ACTUALLY READS THESE POSTS?
    JMO, RETIRED, FRUST FIN FAM, SKUNT, YOU FOLKS ARE REAL LEADERS OF OUR COMMUNITY. I’m WONDERING WHY NONE OF YOU SAVE FOR JMO, REVIVLE YOUR IDENTITY. A COWARD, IS A COWARD..
    I SURE MISS LEONARD MCkAY!

  7. Why not, it worked so well when SJI, the Murk, TheDailyFilth and everyone else recommended that tactic for Sheriff Laurie? Now you all act like it’s a bad thing?

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