In a congressional race to represent Silicon Valley -- one that's being watched around the country --Democrats Mike Honda and Ro Khanna advanced through California's top-two primary system Tuesday night, and are now set to face each other in the November general elections.
Immediately after it became official that Honda and Khanna both won in the primary election, a liberal-leaning national group praised Honda over "Republican-lite Ro Khanna."
Is there any evidence to substantiate or merit calling Khanna a "Republican-lite" candidate or any shade of Republican for that matter?
Honda and Khanna are both candidates who have consistently espoused democratic beliefs and promised voters to pursue platforms that are emblematic of what being a Democrat has come mean. This includes supporting LGBT rights, fighting climate change, advocating that growing the economy requires investing in infrastructure and technology, supporting immigration reform and the list goes on and on.
Moreover, the only time Honda was willing to debate Khanna prior to Tuesday's election - at a forum hosted by the League of Conservation Voters in early May - the two candidates agreed on virtually every issue, with both opting a number of times to not even answer questions after the other spoke, and instead say something akin to, "Yeah, put me down for what he just said."
To hit Khanna with "Republican-lite" label is misleading, to say the least, and somewhat bizarre if you spend even a cursory amount of time looking into this race.
The attack came from Democracy for America (DFA) - the political action committee founded by former presidential hopeful Howard Dean. The only rationale DFA provides for calling Khanna a Republican is the support he's received "of fringe-right millionaires and billionaires."
And, there's no question that Khanna has raised a tremendous amount of campaign money from wealthy people, especially those involved in the high-tech industry. However at the same time, there's been no evidence to suggest that he's been racking in money from individuals on the "fringe-right" - i.e. people who fall into Tea Party category. And, DFA coincidentally provided nothing in its original statement to support that assertion. (See statement below.)
NBC Bay Area on Wednesday reached out to DFA for some clarification. The organization’s communications director, T. Neil Sroka, pointed to two top Republican contributors – Marc Leder and Peter Thiel – who have given a combined total of $10,400 to Khanna’s campaign.
Reports to the Federal Election Commission do show that Leder and Thiel have long track-records of supporting Republican candidates.
Context is important here though – Khanna has raised more than $2.5 million dollars from individual donors, according to his fundraising reports to the FEC. Leder and Thiel’s contributions make up less than .4 percent of Khanna’s total.
Full DFA Statement:
"Tonight, Silicon Valley voters decisively chose Mike Honda, the true, grassroots progressive in the race, over the billionaire-backed, Republican-lite Ro Khanna. With the registered Republicans now out of the race, Democracy for America members look forward to continuing to make clear that Mike Honda is the only progressive Democrat in this race -- a job we expect to be made considerably easier as Republican-lite Ro Khanna inevitably begins making the same right-wing pitch to voters that he used to 'win' the support of fringe-right millionaires and billionaires."