Californians on Tuesday voted to pit patent lawyer Ro Khanna up against incumbent Rep. Michael Honda for a Congressional seat to represent California’s 17th District in the November general election.
Both of them are Democrats. But under California’s primary system, the top two people in each race can move forward to the general election, regardless of their party. Khanna got 27% of the votes; Honda got 48%.
The race has garnered a lot of attention, not least of which because of some very high-profile endorsements for both candidates. Khanna has been endorsed by big names in the tech industry — Sean Parker, Marc Benioff, and Marissa Mayer — as well as the San Francisco Chronicle, according to VentureBeat. He’s also being backed by 270 Strategies, which is the team that got President Barack Obama elected twice.
And his “campaign contribution list reads like an unofficial Silicon Valley social register,” Pando Daily wrote in February. “Peter Thiel, Sean Parker, Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Marc Andreessen, Ron Conway, Mark Pincus, rainmaker/venture capitalist John Doerr and hundreds of other lesser-known tech titans and financiers” are all on the list.
Honda, meanwhile, has the support of Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinsten, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama.
The race between the two candidates may also become the most expensive in the country, according to The Washington Post. So far, Honda has raised $US2.1 million and Khanna has raised $US3.8 million.
More importantly, perhaps, is what the race represents. The 17th District is home to some of the biggest names in the tech industry.
As the Washington Post points out:
Where the two differ is in style and substance. Tech entrepreneurs say that Honda, who will turn 73 this month, doesn’t understand the global economy or the needs of their industry.
But unseating an incumbent, no matter how much of the tech industry’s money he has behind him, is still an uphill battle.
“Money doesn’t often trump incumbency, especially if the incumbent really hasn’t done anything wrong,” San Jose State University political science Professor Larry Gerston told the San Jose Mercury News. Khanna “is playing catch-up,” he said.
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