Silicon Valley Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) faces challenger Ro Khanna tonight in their first and only debate before Election Day.
The 75-minute showdown between the two Democratic 17th Congressional District candidates will be hosted by NBC Bay Area, KQED, The Huffington Post and San Jose State University. It will air live at 6:30pm on NBC affiliate KNTV.
Honda ducked invitations to debate Khanna for months before agreeing to face him in a public forum—the day absentee ballots are sent out.
The Mercury News has called the event too structured—since topics were decided ahead of time—and knocked organizers for not inviting their political reporter, Josh Richman, to sit on the panel. The newspaper also urged panelists to ask about leaked emails San Jose Inside first reported that show Honda's congressional office coordinated with the campaign in violation of House rules, as well as had staffers run personal errands on House time.
SJSU political science professor Melinda Jackson, who will pose questions to the candidates, called the Honda-Khanna contest a key race to watch.
“This race is one of the hottest in the nation for a couple of reasons,” Jackson said in a statement. “First of all, it pits two Democrats against each other—a popular seven-term incumbent backed by the party establishment and a young challenger with the endorsement of many Silicon Valley tech firms. So it is both a generational contest, and an old-guard versus new-guard battle."