Honda Campaign a Sinking Ship after Losing Primary, Key Staff

Rep. Mike Honda’s primary election defeat to Ro Khanna almost certainly spells deuces for the eight-term South Bay congressman. Consider that Khanna announced a huge fundraising advantage with $1.5 million cash on hand as he heads toward the November runoff, and the Honda camp’s sudden post-primary departures—field director Andrew Munson, finance director Sudip Dutta and deputy finance director Nicole Nabulsi—and it makes sense why Uncle Mike’s remaining operatives are sticking to “right-wing millionaire and billionaire” talking points like life preservers. In an email exchange with Fly, Honda campaign manager Michael Beckendorf and spokesman Vedant Patel both refused to explain the circumstances of recent departures. Word is Dutta saw the writing on the wall—knowing there’s no chance to win and asking people for campaign money is career seppuku—and found a soft landing with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who is a shoo-in for re-election. Beckendorf also seems to be buttressing against the taint of losing, as his LinkedIn profile names nine previous candidates he’s worked for but curiously omits Honda’s name as his current employer. Instead, Beckendorf presents himself as the campaign manager of a generic “Congressional Compaign” [sic]. He even ignored Fly’s helpful tip about fixing the typo, instead trotting out a stale trope on right-wing support for Khanna that’s been recycled with little success. Honda’s campaign employees aren’t the only ones jumping ship, though. The congressman’s district director Edwin Tan left the office last month, and we’re waiting to hear back from Honda’s office on others. Despite Honda’s ongoing ethics probe—more or less a sham to run out the clock, as we hear former Honda campaign manager Doug Greven hasn’t even been subpoenaed—none of this is to suggest Fly is calling for Honda to drop out. Mercury News howler monkey Scott Herhold attempted as much in a recent column, teeing it up for commenters to let him know the bell tolls for thee.

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  1. Ro Khanna’s combination of experience in the Executive Branch of the National Government, as an educator, and in the private sector give Ro the skills and experience to deal with the issues of our economy and education as our District 17 representative in Congress.

  2. Lest we forget Ahmad Rafah who left Dodge several months ago and is directing MISSION CONTROL’s efforts to unseat Debi Davis, Teresa O”Neill, and Kathy Watanabe. Rafah is so self delusional it is good he left Honda. Remember the antics of Shaian Mohammadi? Another Honda staffer. Bosos, all.

  3. > Mercury News howler monkey Scott Herhold attempted as much in a recent column, teeing it up for commenters to let him know the bell tolls for thee.

    “Howler monkey”?

    That’s unkind.

    Note that I didn’t say it was incorrect.

  4. Voters need to keep just one thing in mind: SENIORITY. (Disclaimer: I don’t like either Mike Honda or Ro Khanna. The following is a pocketbook reason to help voters decide which candidate is in their best interest.)

    Mike Honda has been in Congress for many years. He is running for his 9th term. That means he is in a position to funnel much more tax money into our 17th District than we pay in federal taxes. Honda’s high seniority means a large net inflow of federal money to our District — and that net inflow increases with every new term that adds to Honda’s Congressional seniority.

    Power in the House is based on only two things: the Party with the majority, and the Representative’s seniority (which is not a partisan issue).

    Honda is now in the top tier of House seniority. That means he will be the Chairman of several House committees and subcommittees. As his seniority increases, he will get his pick of the best (ie: the most lucrative for his District) committees and subcommittees. That’s how it works. That’s how it has always worked. Seniority rules.

    For example, Honda is currently the senior ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice & Science. (Any time you see “appropriations”, you’re seeing a lot of federal tax money flowing through that committee).

    If the Democrats win a majority this fall, Honda (if he also wins) will be appointed Chairman of several appropriations committees and subcommittees, based on his high seniority. Chairmanships are awarded by the majority Party based strictly on seniority; the most senior get their pick of the best committees. Even if the Republicans win a majority, as the ranking minority leader in his committees and subcommittees Honda will still be in a position to divert huge amounts of federal spending into our 17th District.

    Per the Constitution, all spending Bills originate in the House. The various committes and subcommittees determine where federal tax receipts will be spent. It has always been customary for the committee Chairs to have the most influence by far, when it comes to where their committee will direct federal spending. It’s simple and straightforeward: the committee’s Chair has the most influence by far over where the money will be spent. Honda’s seniority will guarantee that a disproportionate amount of federal spending will be directed to our 17th District. We are getting far more in federal money now than we are paying in taxes to Washington DC.

    However, If Khanna were to win he would be a freshman House member, starting at the bottom. He would have zero seniority. He would need to win several elections before he starts to amass the seniority necessary to have spending clout. And it will be many years before he approaches Honda’s ability to direct federal dollars into our District.

    If Honda wins, he will amass even more seniority. That means he will direct even more money — taken from taxpayers in all 57 states and their Districts — into Northern California’s 17th Congressional District. We will benefit out of all proportion to the taxes our District pays. But electing Khanna would re-set that, and other Congresscritters would spend our tax money in their Districts based on their Representative’s seniority.

    As stated, I don’t particularly like either Khanna or Honda. But this is clearly a pocketbook issue, and people need to understand that voting for a newbie will cost a lot of money and jobs here, and for a long time. It’s common sense to vote for the candidate who can bring home the bacon. But if our District elects a freshman, the rising flow of federal money into our 17th District will suddenly stop.

    Money follows seniority in Congress. Voters in the 17th District would be shooting themselves in the foot by electing a newcomer who will not be able tp produce a net return of our tax money for many years.

    Other than that, Honda and Khanna are two peas in a pod: whoever wins will take his marching orders from the DNC. That applies to everything — except to allocating spending, and where the money will be spent. That is determined by only two things, as explained above.

    So unless Khanna is your brother in law, or you have another very good reason to replace someone with high seniority with a freshman with no seniority, think about what that would mean.

    A Representative with nine terms in the House will funnel much more money here than we pay in taxes. But a newcomer would decisively end that money flow; instead, our money will go to other Districts.

    Seniority makes this election a “no-brainer”. The money will go somewhere — either back here, along with plenty more — or we will pay for the jobs, construction, and education in other Districts.

    This is an important election. I trust the 17th District residents are smart enough to vote in their own best interest.

    • > Mike Honda has been in Congress for many years. He is running for his 9th term. That means he is in a position to funnel much more tax money into our 17th District than we pay in federal taxes. Honda’s high seniority means a large net inflow of federal money to our District . . .

      Reality check: Honda will be a back bencher in a likely Republican majority House. But not merely a back bencher, a notoriously ineffective back bencher.

      Honda’s “seniority” isn’t going to mean squat to President Trump or the Republican Speaker of the House.

      Say goodbye to any federal funds for the California High Speed Rail. That turkey is FINALLY going bye bye, and it isn’t going to make a gnat’s worth of difference if Honda throws his tubby body on the tracks to keep the Repubs from tearing it up.

      Khanna will likely be more energetic and try harder to “get something done”, but he will be swimming against the tide. Probably, his arms will get tired, and he will become frustrated. But there’s no reason to believe that he will be able to do anything more for the district than Sleepy.

      Time for the District to learn how to make an honest living without looking for its member in Congress to be its designated grifter.

    • This is interesting – I mean top 2 was sold as a way to get rid of incumbents…but it still can’t change the composition of the districts…so what you normally have are freshman running against more senior members of the same party because in the end the district is still usually red or blue (and in swingy districts it’s still an R and a D in most cases).

      What this really does in increase the influence of money in politics bc incumbents have to raise money to beat back challengers whereas before a safe seat was a lifetime seat.

      Unintended consequence of the short sighted tantrum to throw out the bums is an increased influence of money…

      • > I mean top 2 was sold as a way to get rid of incumbents

        I never understood what problem “top 2” was trying to solve.

        The best I can come up with is that it is a sneaky way to transition to a one party system and condition people to not question it.

        • I disagree…I think each party is made weaker because they have to waste resources protecting seniority from ambitious kids in their party rather than focusing on swing races.

    • What have you been smoking, Smokey? Saying the same thing over and over again won’t make your wish come true. Honda has had only one bill he authored passed in his entire 16 year stint–naming a post office after a campaign donor. He has never had even a sub committee chairmanship or vice chairmanship. In the unlikely event he wins, the ethics probe will re open and bounce him.

    • The Congressperson who has been bringing the bacon home to San Jose is Zoe Lofgren (example: satellite patent office). What has Honda done in Congress besides nod off on C-SPAN?
      And the seniority argument did not persuade Dems in the East Bay, who were quick to replace the whitehaired no-BS Pete Stark with the downy-cheeked altar boy Eric Swalwell.

    • ASSOCIATES ONLY wrote:

      …top 2 was sold as a way to get rid of incumbents…but it still can’t change the composition of the districts…so what you normally have are freshman running against more senior members of the same party

      Exactly right, and we’re witnessing that here. There are other California Districts with two Democrats running, and more than one of them will probably elect another zero-seniority freshman Congressman.

      But will those newbies really be any different? The system squashes the idealists in short order. They’re all ambitious, or they wouldn’t be running in what’s a pretty grueling, months long contest. And if they win they’re anxious to advance, so they go along to get along. In any conflict between their national Party, and what’s best for the District they were elected to represent, the Party wins. Simple as that.

      That leaves the consideration of seniority, which was my only point: seniority is what brings home federal grants, projects, subsidies, etc., and the more seniority your state’s representatives have, the more leverage there is to direct money into your state.

      Seniority is the way Congress does business. That’s how they’ve always done it, and no newcomer is going to come in and change that system. If and when Democrats are the majority again, those with the most seniority will get to select the committee and subcommittee chairmanships they want. It goes by seniority. And those committee chairmanships have enormous leverage in directing federal spending to their District. Committees and subcommittees are assigned chairmanships by the majority Party based on seniority. Nothing is more important than those two things: the majority Party, and seniority.

      Democrat electeds, and similarly Republicans (I’m neither, but Democrats are more ruthless about it), represent their national Party over the interests of the District that elected them. So when the DNC says, “Jump!”, their congresscritters say, “How high?” But when the voters want their Rep. to vote a certain way, the message is: “Lemme check with the DNC first.” If there’s any conflict, the DNC wins over the District’s best interests.

      The passage of “Top 2” will steadily reduce this state’s ability to direct federal money here. And now there are no longer ‘safe seats’. Every freshman challenger who wins over the incumbent will reduce California’s share of federal taxpayer loot, from now on.

      There’s no doubt that intra-Party and inter-state politics was at play in the promotion of “Top 2”. Other states whispered among themselves: California has too much power. Their senators and House electeds have top seniority, so they’re getting too much money at our states’ expense… How can we change that, without looking like the bad guys?

      So California voters — led by an invisible media ring through their nose, and told how to vote through four months of incessant commercials, newspaper editorials, and TV talking heads — voted for ‘Top 2’ against our own best interests — and for feeble reasons that didn’t withstand even mild scrutiny. It was a feel-good proposition that sounded… well, different. Even interesting. So we radically changed the way voting has been done for hundreds of years — and which has greatly benefitted California at the expense of the other 57 states.

      “Top 2” was a bad move. The first thing we should have asked was: cui bono? There were some voices in the wilderness pointing out that California would gradually lose out, along with the loss of high-seniority incumbents.

      But similar to the newspaper and radio campaign that pushed for the direct popular election of Senators (17th Amendment), the ‘Top 2’ campaign was also for ‘democracy’, and the ‘peoples’ choice’. Its behind the scenes promoters fanned the anti-incumbent flames in the media because California’s long-term incumbents were costing their states a net-outflow of tax money; much of which became part of California’s net-inflow.

      The high average seniority of our Senators and Representatives brought major financial benefits to our state. But the states that were paying more in federal taxes than they collected were becoming jealous.

      “Top 2” fixed that. It will be a gradual process. But the upside is that California voters bought into the anti-incumbent argument, without understanding the implications or importance of the seniority system. They blamed the incumbents, instead of the out of state interests pushing “Top2”. An added benefit for the DNC: with California overwhelmingly Democrat, “Top 2” virtually guaranteed that voters would have a choice between a Democrat and a Democrat. “Top 2” also removed the voters’ choice between a liberal and a conservative, pushing the state even farther left.

      Our state’s voters got screwed by ‘Top 2’. If he’s elected, Khanna, like Honda, will vote exactly as he’s told to by the DNC. But now we will also start to lose the federal tax income we enjoyed under House seniority rules.

      The “Top 2” chickens are coming home to roost. California is beginning its long slide toward mediocrity. From now on, after every election cycle our state will lose more federal money.

      So take your pick: yopu can vote for a ‘progressive’ Democrat, or another ‘progressive’ Democrat. That’s your choice, if you want to call it that. “Top 2” took away safe seats that gave our state high seniority, and it also took away any choice between a liberal and a conservative candidate. Now, voters have a far-Left vs far-Left choice. Take your pick. But the winner will still vote the way the DNC tells him to vote.

      I am an equal opportunity guy: I dislike Honda and Khanna equally. But if the challenger is successful, it will result in two very serious problems:

      1. His zero seniority will begin to reduce our state’s share of federal tax receipts, and

      2. He will still toe the DNC’s Party line.

      Control of our Rep’s votes by the national Parties in Washington DC is not remotely the way it was originally intended. Now if there’s a disagreement between what the Democrat Party wants and what our District’s voters want, the DNC rules. And if our District doesn’t agree with the DNC? We can just suck it up, because the national Party controls our Representative’s votes — not the people supposedly being represented.

      That’s the reason I wrote that seniority is the most important consideration in this election. Ro Khanna is ambitious, and he knows he won’t go anywhere beyond this election if he goes against the national Party.

      For example, if Khanna is elected he will vote against any curbs on unrestricted immigration if that’s how he’s told to vote by his national Party in Washington DC. So there’s no difference between the two choices. That’s why it’s in our District’s best interest to vote for the one with high seniority, over someone with none. Because otherwise, they’re votes will both be decided by the DNC on policy questions. We have no say at all, because whoever our ‘representative’ is, he’s beholden to the DNC — not to the people who elected him.

      That’s just one example of how the DNC routinely overrules the best interests of the District, when it instructs its Representatives on how to vote on issues it considers important.

      So voters in the 17th District will eat their mush, and like it… well, we might not like the mush they’re serving up. But the District’s wishes will simply be disregarded if they conflict with the Party’s agenda; the national Party’s ‘progressive’ policies will be shoved down our gullets, because we have no say in it. Our electeds will listen to them, not to us.

      That’s why seniority is the only real consideration left in this particular election. Voters lost the right a long time ago to change the vote of their Representative, if/when the national Party instructed ‘their’ Rep to vote the Party line. But before “Top 2” at least our state’s voters had the consolation prize of getting more federal loot transferred here than we paid out.

      But now that’s going to be lost too, if 18 years of House seniority is jettisoned because voters bought into the arguments that benefited other states’ “Top 2” promoters (with the connivance of the same DNC, which knows California is in the bag, and couldn’t make a fuss if it wanted to).

      Like Honda, Khanna will be beholden to his national Party, not to his District’s voters. The DNC keeps very tight control over its Congressional representatives, both in the House and Senate. Their electeds can say whatever they want to the voters, and pontificate on their minor issues. But when it comes down to what really matters — how they vote on any particular policy issue — they are the kept pets of the national Party. And they’re on a very short leash.

      Seniority, folks. Nothing else matters as much.

      • Agree that seniority is key (if not the crucial factor…)

        The standard answer from freshman challengers is “earmarks are gone” so seniority is not crucial as crucial (or in this race that Honda appropriations seat is not longer as big a deal after earmarks are gone…). What do you think about?

        Certainly, Khanna’s “skills” and “integrity” a aren’t going to move the needle…there are plenty of lawyers in congress so his skills are hardly unique while not all of them cancel checks to charity only to pay them back when pressured publicly…

        • You guys are so full of it – Keep candidates in until they keel over for the simple fact of seniority. is probably the most pathetic and undemocratic thing I have seen on this forum. So your idea is simply to not hold awful legislators accountable at all, once they are elected just keep them in there for the sake of seniority?!?!?! Ro will have a bigger influence and be more active at advocating for his districts needs from Day One. Mike has been an ineffective advocate which is the only reason he is running into so much trouble. Once we get beyond the Honda dishonesty and unethical machine I think you will see a major change in how this district is perceived.

  5. Old timer career politicians like Honda have been sitting on their butts doing absolutely nothing for too long.

    Their time has passed and people are finally figuring out these people do nothing. Good that he’s booted out.

  6. Look at Honda’s decisions towards hiring staff. Doug G, guilty of unethical conduct. Shaian Mohammadi, Facebook harasser, Ahmad Rafah, Arrogant Moron. Yeah, the district is getting great service.

  7. In deciding between Ro Khanna and Mike Honda in the November election, seniority seems to me a red herring issue. In talking with many voters in the district what they care about is skilled leadership and integrity. Ro Khanna has the skills and integrity that have been lacking under eight terms of Honda.

    • We need terms limits for the US Congress and US Senate, just as we have term limits for CA Assembly and CA Senate, and all other CA state offices.
      If we had term limits, then no one would be able to hold a political office essentially as a lifetime career.

      • Term limits means the most knowledgeable people in Sacramento about how the legislature works are the lobbyists. They have no term limits, and in consequence they have the institutional memory.

  8. Well, Honda a pretty good fundraising quarter so maybe the smart money is hedging their bets..

  9. The ethics investigation is a “sham to run out the clock?” Meaning what? Why not conclude the investigation and give the voting public the results? Was Honda unethical or was he not?

    • Largerly because Khanna and his genuis advisors have politicized it. The media would have covered the story (and raised Honda’s unfavorables) without them mucking up the facts and turning it into a political football (no Committee wants to feel like it’s doing opposition research for a candidate.

      The fact that Greven hasn’t been called means the report won’t come out till after the election. Even if it did, it would be pretty terrible for Honda (there is no way to explain the “According to the report, Honda told investigators he has attended his district office’s staff retreats, which he said were all official business. Then the investigators showed him notes from an October 2013 retreat at which campaign manager Doug Greven said that Honda’s Washington office makes policy, the district office arranges events and the campaign uses those events to raise money.”)

      Josh Koehn & SJI is probably getting Khanna elected unless Honda has an October suprise up his sleeve. If Honda does win, someone will be able to run on the ethics investigation with Khanna out of the picture (he can’t run again after blowing a ton of other people’s money & being gifted an ethics investigation which they misplayed politically.

      The better play would have been to say nothing other than “due process matters” and let the media do his negative advertising for him.

      • The unbiased media would never tarnish a fellow Democrat, except now it’s a knife fight in a dark closet.

  10. Hate Mongers !! Scott Herhold, ( Howler Monkey) Josh Koehn Jmo, .
    You have tarred and feathered Mike Honda, time and time again. When are you going to realize, Tar and Feathers do not stick to honorable men?
    I have never heard of you hate pedalers, speak of Ro Kahanna’s acomplishments, how well he is loved by the people he hopes to repesent, The Corporations have Ro in their pockets. They really expect that Ro will get them off the hook, paying the corporate taxes they have floating off shore, which amount to many Billions of dollars.

    • If the worst things Beckendorf allegedly did was follow the tweets of a softcore pornstar and lie about taking shrooms in college — does that really amount to being “as unethical as they come”? I ask because I grew up in Chicago — where Mrs. Ex-Governor Blagojevich is currently begging a judge for mercy — and Beckendorf’s alleged improprieties would not even budge the needle.

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