SJ Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio Files Papers to Challenge Rep. Mike Honda for Seat in Congress

As far as anyone knew, San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio planned to term out after a decade in public office and return to the tech industry.

So he took just about everyone off guard when he filed papers Friday to run for 17th Congressional District against eight-term Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) and perennial rival Ro Khanna.

The District 6 councilman’s name comes up on Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters candidate list, which shows that he plunked down the $1,740 filing fee. The Mercury News first reported the filing.

“I planned on going back to tech full time,” said Oliverio, who spent 20-plus years marketing semiconductors before his election to public office. “But after observing all the mud-slinging from the two major candidates instead of talking about the major concerns for the country, I decided to jump in.”

Oliverio joins five other candidates hoping to unseat Honda in one of the highest-profile House races in the nation. Honda, who has held political office for 25 years, lost President Barack Obama’s endorsement but came away from this past weekend with official backing from the California Democratic Party.

But Honda’s reputation has been sullied by a House ethics investigation and a legal defense funded by campaign donations.

Oliverio, a Democrat, said he’d rather not comment on the incumbent or Khanna, a Fremont-based attorney and former Obama administration appointee.

“People run for Congress as if they’re running to be president,” Oliverio told San Jose Inside. “They say they want to ban this or fund billions of dollars for new programs. I mean, really? They’re running to be one of 435 representatives—that’s 434 other people who have a different view that you have to work with. So you go, you vote and you vote based on how you feel about certain subjects. Are you pro choice? Pro life? Pro industry or pro environment?”

Oliverio’s record beyond the politics of San Jose will require more vetting, but he is a Democrat and pro choice.

Also in the running for the D-17 seat are Kennita Watson, Stephen Forbes, Peter Kuo and Ronald Cohen.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Does he live in Honda’s district? I live in San Jose D-6, but my representative is Zoe Lofgren

  2. Some unsuspecting tech company just got a reprieve… no profit-calming — at lest until after the election.

  3. Oliverio…..grabs a plastic water bottle at every meeting I’ve ever been to. Leaves the bottle on the ground for someone else to pick up. Pushes for high-density housing every chance he gets though he lives in a single-family home in Willow Glen which is protected in the city’s general plan from any high density development.

    He’ll be a great person representing the wealthy.

    • He does represent the wealthy class
      He’s just muddying the waters so Khanna gets in
      Khanna is a puppet for the tech and layered wealthy elite
      Be smart
      Vote real Democrat
      Vote Honda

  4. Does this guy live in the district? Are his supporters even voters in CA-17? D-6 isn’t in CA-17. I didn’t they he did or they were. Great, like Honda, another guy that doesn’t live in the district he’s trying to represent.

    • Under Article 1 of the US Constitution the only residency requirement is that a Congress member live in the STATE of the district to be represented. I presume you were born in the USA. Anyone who came to the USA LEGALLY would be required to know that and other important facts about our republic (the USA is NOT a democracy) in order to pass the citizenship test. You wrote: “I didn’t they he did or they were.” Please translate that to English. Your handle, NEWDEM2016, says it all. Heaven help us that you and millions like you are legally entitled to vote.

      • Be nice to NewDem2016. It’s a Khanna staffer astroturfing.

        It’s a bad day for them. They were measuring the drapes because SJI did for them what they could not do for themselves (make their guy viable).

        They measured the drapes a little to early methinks…

        • Haha. not a staffer (I wish!), but definitely a Khanna supporter. Honda’s tactics of the last few years have made me more and more staunch. I have absolutely loved following this race. It’s intellectually fascinating to see Honda week after week getting caught with all these ethical lapses, investigations and scandals. Some days, I feel like I should be eating popcorn reading about them all!

          JMO, sorry for the extra pronoun. Was typing too fast. Appreciate your positive feedback! :-)

          AO, I don’t think Khanna or Honda are overly worried about this new guy. If he hires a team, does field, raises money, then he’s a bit more credible. But right now, there are 7 candidates (last I counted!) who are running against your boss (yes, I believe you are a Honda staffer). Everyone sees how vulnerable Honda is. More stunts like Saturday’s hit piece (I bet you’re the one who wrote that puppet mailer!) and I can see this being terribly embarrassing and unsuccessful next 6 months for Honda.

          • Well you know all the field and fundraising left the candidate you support at the same place in July 2014 that a person who was not even trying to win was in 2012 (see question #5).

            I just wonder if voters are even paying attention to any of this or if it’s the campaigns shadowboxing each other through a press that few read (BANG’s huge cuts today indicate that this whole local political chatter might just be us talking to each other…)


            Maybe someone relatively new to the area and elected offices needs to do what you suggest to get their name ID up but Oliverio has it already (and the district lines matter, but come on do you really think there is a huge difference bw Willow Glenn and Santa Clara?)

            Let’s agree to keep it civil…I’ll try my best to do so but may fail and will apologize when I do…I enjoyed the dialogue last time and let’s do it again and throughout this cycle…

            It was out of line for me to assume you were a staffer…my apologies

  5. “I planned on going back to tech full time,” said Oliverio, who spent 20-plus years marketing semiconductors before his election to public office. “But after observing all the mud-slinging from the two major candidates instead of talking about the major concerns for the country, I decided to jump in.”

    It’s more like……I planned on going back to tech full time…..but after observing how many hours tech workers have to put in and that they actually have to work their asses off…I decided to jump in.

    That’s what I read.

  6. Narcissist Oliverio should pursue therapy rather than elected office. I think he’s running to hear himself talk some more.

  7. Oliverio better keep his head down. After all the effort SJI has put into trying to prop up Khanna and tear down Honda, they’re not going to be too happy about anyone who might complicate things for Khanna. I’m have no doubt that an anti-Oliverio story is already being written.

  8. Although I do not agree with him on every issue, I have always been a fan of Pierluigi. Nevertheless, I am distressed that he has decided to run against Sleepy Time Mike Honda. Perhaps it is because he has been out of high tech since he assumed office in 2007 and realizes that his skill set in 2007 is marginally relevant in 2016. So, Pierluigi is effectively out of a job soon. It’s a huge jump from District 6 San Jose to Congress, a leap I am not confident Pierluigi has the skills to make. However, I am sure that he will be a disruptive force that will make it easier for Karaoke Good Time But Sleepy on the House Floor and Basically Worthless Mike Honda to be re-elected. Pierluigi will siphon more votes from Khanna than he will from Honda. So, when he doesn’t make the cut of the top two, Pierluigi needs to endorse Khanna, or we’ll be stuck with Honda for another two sleepy years. Basically, when it comes to the runoff, Pierluigi needs to get out enough votes for Khanna to offset the votes Village Blacksmith Gil Hernandez will get out for Honda. As for the other candidates (Kennita Watson, Stephen Forbes, Peter Kuo and Ronald Cohen) who the hell are they???

    • But you think the jump from being some unknown bureaucrat in Obama’s commerce department (who can’t get Obama’s endorsement…would you hire someone who can’t get a positive reference from their previous employer?) to Congress is all good because he took a nap?

      Superficial much?

      How do you think Khanna – as a freshman backbencher – is going to be more effective?

      • AO, there is zero expectation for Khanna to receive Obama’s endorsement. It is unprecedented that the President withdrew his support for Honda last week. As the head of the Democratic Party, it is expected that he give whatever support is necessary for sitting Dem incumbents. This decision, I’m sure, did not come easily for the WH. The only time I can remember Obama not endorsing an incumbent member of Congress was Charlie Rangel a few years ago (was a great Rachel Maddow segment on that because of it’s rarity). Well, now it’s two times. Not endorsing Honda this cycle when he was given that blessing so early in 2013 (was like, January, right?) is humiliating enough for Honda. It sends a big enough message to the district that voters will see the signaling on election day.

        Khanna will be waaaaaaaaay more effective than Honda, on day one, because he’s hard working, brilliant, curious, collaborative and wants to talk with everyone (not just the echochamber of his side). The proof is just watching Eric Swalwell. Eric accomplished more (2 bills) in his first term last cycle than Honda has done in 15 years (one bill – naming a post office). Swalwell is very hardworking, is everywhere, etc. Silicon Valley needs more of that.

        And, sorry, but no, Honda being on Appropriations is not good enough to keep him. There are 45+ members on that committee. Honda is not perceived in an influential manner whatsoever. He’s best known for his karaoke, backslapping, ways. No colleague takes him seriously from a legislative perspective. Silicon Valley deserves someone who will be viewed as an intellectual leader. That’s Khanna. Period.

        • If he’s a backslapper not taken seriously, then why did Khanna say he was the “oustanding” and the adminstration’s point person for the most important relationship we have going forward (China)? You know Khanna used to call Honda mentor (why did Khanna pick a mentor no one takes seriously)? You know that if Stark has won in 2012, Khanna would have asked for (but not gotten) Honda endorsement to run against Stark in 2014 if Stark didn’t retire?

          That video has to make you cringe a little bit given what you’all are saying now?

          • Maybe I’m a weird duck, but all I see is an aspiring politician being overly nice to a current politician. Personally, I appreciate the respect Khanna is giving to Honda’s background and office (although perhaps a bit much). That said, when this video was taken (a number of years ago), Honda was perceived as a nice guy and deserving of glowing compliments. Since that time, Honda has shown numerous examples of his lack of ethics & integrity and his comfort with his congressional office and campaign’s dirty tricks (and thankfully got caught!). No elected official today would be caught dead saying something like what Ro said in your clip publicly now given all of stories of what Honda did in the last race and his current ethics scandal. I have seen a big difference in how people refer to Honda now. The best example is with the President choosing to not endorse Honda anymore. That’s just gotta hurt.

        • NEWDEM says:

          Khanna will be waaaaaaaaay more effective than Honda…

          Wrong-O. You don’t seem to understand Congressional seniority. It will take several terms before any freshman can funnel the kind of money into the district that Honda can. How is that gonna help constituents?

          And PLO isn’t doing this to help Honda, IMHO. PLO only cares about PLO. He’s getting his name out there anticipating a future run for office — just like Khanna does: try, try again.

          And just for giggles, here’s our sign thief in action:

          But it will all turn out OK…

          Now we return you to your regular programming…

          • Yes, Khanna will be WAAAAAAAAAY more effective than Honda. It’s not at all about years of seniority, it’s about intelligence, work ethic, collegial respect and effectiveness. Swalwell in his first term passed twice as many bills as Honda has done in 15 years! Tulsi Gabbard, Seth Moulton, Joe Kennedy, etc. ALL are super effective because of their intelligence, hard work and respect of their peers (even though they’re young!). Khanna will be a new member of that group. Honda is not viewed, AT ALL, for his intellect, work ethic and effectiveness. He sleeps on the job, mumbles thru his incoherent speeches and panel questions, etc. He’s frankly a joke. All his peers know it and after the last race (where Honda went toxically negative with racist attacks) would like him to just go away. To have the President not endorse Honda this year is the WH’s way of saying, “please retire”.

      • AO—anyone with a pulse could be more effective than Honda. In 14 years the only bill he authored that has passed was a bill to name a post office after one of his largest campaign donors. Most of Sleepy Mike’s proposed bills never made it out of committee. That’s how “highly” he is regarded by his colleagues. We need someone more important than a Go-fer as our representative.

        • Pelosi is going to treat Khanna like a partner treats a first year associate.

          How exactly do you think effort is going make Paul Ryan decide “you know what let me help this democrat get his bills passed”? Is Khanna then going to effort his way past a Senate where Dems are in the minority (or at least won’t have a fillibuster proof majority even if Trump screws Republicans down the ballot)?

          Seniority man it’s a thing. It’s the only thing that MIGHT matter (way more than a nap)

          This is an example of being effective and working across the aisle. It’s amendment Boehner adopted. It won’t show up in your arbitrary measuring stick (also begs the question of how exactly Khanna will even get a post office named, one of the two bills Khanna people cite Swalwell passing was to…name a post office) This simplistic nonsense that Khanna folks have been peddling is just that.

          I know I’m quoting a Honda press release but trust me I’m the last person you’d expect to be defending Honda (appreciate if you’ll respect my privacy and not pry further into who I am, though IP logging exists so I’m sure it’s easy to find out)

  9. This guy is the poster child of incompetence! I cannot stop laughing…. Last time I spoke to Piero he was pretty buzzed at the wine stroll… He was trying to yuck it up with two officers, they weren’t having any of it.

    • And the Paul Ryan decides “man this Khanna guy has a lot of get up and go to him…let me forget that I’m a republican and he’s a democrat and pass his bills”…lol

      Sleeping through those things is a normal reaction…have you ever watched CSPAN?

  10. You know what PierLuigi?

    I might not have agreed with some of your shenanigans over the years, but better you than Honda. Go get em. I’d like to know your positions on a few things, maybe I’ll actually show up to church next week and ask.

  11. As was in the Mercury News article:

    “Meanwhile, Republican candidate Cohen said he was very pleased to see Oliverio enter the race, bringing up accusations from 2014 that Khanna was behind a last-minute Republican candidate who split the district’s GOP vote. Those claims were ultimately rejected by a judge. But Cohen does not share that opinion.

    ‘From a karma aspect I’m enjoying this,” Cohen said. “I’m thrilled and delighted that someone is coming in to split Ro Khanna’s vote — we know what you did, pal.’ ”

    There is one error in the above. The judge did not “reject” the claim. After kicking one lawyer friend of Ro’s, a fake (R) candidate off the ballot for not having enough signatures, the judge left the other fake (R) candidate on the ballot saying “let the voters decide.” It was an effective tactic. Vanila Singh (R) lost 6,000 votes to VanLandingham, and Khanna advanced to the general election.

    So, as I said, it is good to see a real (D) come in, I presume for honest reasons, to split Khanna’s vote. Since Oliverio will not be endorsed by the (D) party in anyway, that puts him in the same boat as Ro. Again, I like the “karma” of that.

    Since most voters think about how to vote for all of 30 seconds, this type of thing is important.

    To see a fully, thoughtful discussion of 37 real issues in the campaign, please go to my website at

    Thanks for reading.


  12. From the San Jose Mercury News Article:

    “Meanwhile, Republican candidate Cohen said he was very pleased to see Oliverio enter the race, bringing up accusations from 2014 that Khanna was behind a last-minute Republican candidate who split the district’s GOP vote. Those claims were ultimately rejected by a judge. But Cohen does not share that opinion.

    “From a karma aspect I’m enjoying this,” Cohen said. “I’m thrilled and delighted that someone is coming in to split Ro Khanna’s vote — we know what you did, pal.”

    One correction on the 2014 Ro Khanna issues: The judge did not “reject” the conspiracy arguments. After the judge threw one fake republican off the ballot for a lack of good petition signatures, he didn’t have time to fully consider the issues against the other fake Republican (who had 1/3rd of his signatures signed by Khanna supporters, many from an Indo Church in Fremont of well-known Khanna supporters) and ruled “to let the voters decide” as the Registrar of Voters needed to print voters’ packages and mail them out quickly. Respectfully, that is a good bit different than a formal ruling that the case against Joel VanLandingham being on the ballot, was “rejected.”

    Here is the whole story, with links to reports in the SJ Mercury News. Read and decide for yourself.:

    Ron Cohen
    Ron Cohen for Congress 2016

  13. @newdem2016

    That video is from less than a year before Khanna decided to run. The ethics stuff happened much after Khanna decided to run (and was on his way to an embarrassing blowout loss Q5 of his own poll shows).

    It seems like plenty of elected officials are wiling to say nice things about Honda…the ones endorsing him have. The ones on the chamber side of the local labor vs chamber divide back Khanna.

    I agree that Khanna is just a typical politician. That’s what makes Oliverio interesting – he stands on principle even though I disagree with him.

    Convinction > Calculation.

    • AO (or should I call you Vedant),

      I don’t understand your point or logic here at all about the timing of Khanna’s comments so I won’t hazard a guess. I too am looking at the Q5 you’re pointing too. Looks like Khanna’s Oct/14 poll with a few weeks to go in the race had them both tied 37/37 (amazing considering Honda was saying he was 14 points up at the time and Khanna had come from 20 behind after the primary). So Honda then spends $1mm on negative ads in the final few weeks that EVERYONE skewered Honda for as being full of lies and purposeful distortions, and wins the general by 3.5 points. Sooooo what’s the blow-out loss you’re referring to? Unless you and I use the English language differently, that’s definitionally an extremely close race, needing an extra week+ to declare a winner. So, what the hell are you talking about? If you want to be a good Honda staffer, feel free to make your case, but this rabid Khanna supporter loves the debate and will back it up fact by fact all day long.

      Are you saying that Alex Padilla and Kevin de Leon are chamber? Am confused.

      And lastly, Vedant, nice try attempting to pump up the interest on PLO. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Honda camp personally recruited him to the race (my two cents). I still am amazed by Khanna’s field and growing endorsers. The more candidates, the merrier I say for this race. There’s already 7 people in. Let’s keep it going! Field always wins. My money’s on Khanna to come in 2nd in the primary and crush Honda in the general.

      • It’s pretty simple…less than a year before he started running…he thought he was outstanding (it’s a long time ago now, but it’s telling that all it takes is a Stark loss to go from outstanding to ineffective).

        I’m pointing to 7/12 on Q5…10/7 is after SJI saved y’all.

        Alex Padilla and KDL…around here Oliverio is better known than them…

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