Despite reports that Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) agreed to debate his opponent in the Silicon Valley House race, challenger Ro Khanna says he has yet to see an official invite.
Khanna, a patent attorney running against the seven-term incumbent for the 17th Congressional District, held a rally outside Honda's San Jose office Wednesday to accuse him of ducking a series of promised debates. (Honda told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board earlier this summer that he would appear in multiple debates). According to SFgate.com, supporters held signs saying, "We want town halls," and "Where's our congressman?"
On Wednesday, the San Jose Mercury News published a report that the debate agreement had been finalized. But when contacted Thursday morning, Khanna's campaign told San Jose Inside that is not accurate.
“At this point we have not received an official invitation to accept, but the earlier date looks good,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law told San Jose Inside. “As we discussed yesterday with the Huffington Post, our acceptance of any debate remains contingent on a local television media partner. Of course, this debate must be one of multiple, as that is exactly what Congressman Honda promised to voters two different times during the primary.”
Honda, by way of his spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan, said today that he has agreed to the Oct. 6 debate, which is a Monday and the same day vote-by-mail ballots are due. Huffington Post and San Jose State University, organizers of the event, originally asked for a mid-October date. But Khanna asked for an earlier date, because absentee ballots are expected to play a large role in determining who will win the race.
“Congressman Honda has now twice accepted proposals from Huffington Post and SJSU for debates,” Kembaiyan said. “If Ro Khanna wants to debate, he should accept.”
The proposal from Huffington Post for an Oct. 6 debate includes the following terms:
- Debate will be 75 minutes in length
- HuffPost and local network moderator, panelists will include faculty from San Jose State
- Candidates will not be given questions ahead of time, just the general topics
- Coin toss to determine order of speakers
- No opening statements
- Two-minute responses, 90-second rebuttals and, at moderator’s discretion, discussion extensions of one minute
- Two-minute closing statements
“I’m pleased to accept the updated debate invitation I just received from the Huffington Post and San Jose State University for a debate on October 6,” Honda said in a statement. “I am looking forward to this next discussion about the issues most important to everyone in California’s 17th Congressional District.”