SAN JOSE — Rep. Mike Honda declared victory and Ro Khanna conceded on Nov. 7, ending a Democrat-on-Democrat congressional race that drew national attention.
First elected in 2000, Honda represents the 17th Congressional District, which includes western Santa Clara County. Khanna, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and a lawyer with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, represented a younger constituency that he said was more in touch with the needs of Silicon Valley. Nearly half of the district’s population is Asian American.
As of Wednesday, the count was 68,001 votes (51.8 percent) for Honda, 63,293 (48.2 percent) for Khanna.
Honda told his supporters: “This win was a team effort, and this win belongs to all of you who knocked on doors, made calls, contributed funds, talked to your friends and your neighbors. I want to thank you. I also want to specifically thank Democracy for America and its over 1 million members nationwide who were helpful in this campaign from the beginning to the very end.
“Together we sent a message that the voters of this district value a lifetime of service to the community more than a lifetime of serving oneself. Together we sent a message that this election could not be bought by super PACs and right-wing millionaires and billionaires.
“My opponent’s donors wasted more than $5 million, through is campaign and super PAC, to try to replace my progressive voice with someone who would do their own bidding. And although we were outspent by 2 to 1, they were no match for the more than 10,000 people who funded my campaign.
“Today I have a message for those right-wing millionaires and billionaires. You cannot buy grassroots. You could not buy it this year and you will not buy it next year. This district and electoral democracy are not for sale.
“Together we will continue to fight to make sure that the voices of the most needy are not drowned out by the voices of those who paid to make their voices loudest in Washington.
“Together we will fight to raise the minimum wage, to increase Social Security benefits, to make sure that each and every child receives the educational equity and excellence they deserve. And to respect the civil rights of all people, no matter what they look like, where they’re from, how they worship or who they love.
“We will continue to fight for these things because they are the values that make our district and this nation so great.
“I also want to make one thing clear right now. You can count on me to be with you in that fight, because I’m not going anywhere.”
Khanna gave the following statement: “Thank you to my extraordinary team and supporters for being here. I just called Congressman Honda to congratulate him on his victory after a hard-fought campaign. I wished him well as he returns to Washington for another term.
“At a time when it is easy to be cynical about politics, I am inspired by the passion of both campaigns in this unique district. And I want to thank the voters. So many of them invited me into their living rooms to talk, and some did so even after making it clear that their vote was likely going to be for Mike Honda. That just goes to show that this is a district where voters are fundamentally fair, open-minded, and decent, and I respect their judgment and decision.
“I want to thank my volunteers who gave up their favorite hobbies and too often their sleep to knock on doors, post on Facebook, make phone calls, and organize rides to the polls. Their dedication gives me so much hope about our country’s future. They did not do it for me. They did it because they believe in the simple joy and awesome responsibility of citizenship.
“And I even want to thank some of Congressman Honda’s ardent supporters for their conviction. I became accustomed to reading the daily barbs directed at me even when I disagreed — whether tweets from Glenn the Plumber or DFA. The type of open debate and marketplace of ideas that this congressional race fostered is precisely what makes our democracy strong and our nation the most competitive.
“In the last week of the campaign when I was out knocking on doors in Sunnyvale, I met a young man in the Honda campaign who was doing the same. He approached me tentatively and said, ‘Are you Ro Khanna?’ I pleaded guilty. He then asked if he could take a selfie to show his friends.
“I was touched by this young man’s civility. I thought to myself — if only there were more of that spirit in our politics.
“This long campaign has come to a close. My hope is that those engaged on both sides will channel their extraordinary talent to solve our nation’s most urgent challenge: We need to figure out how to create a strong middle class in a changing, global economy. I believe, more than ever, that our district has so much to offer in building a fair and prosperous economic future for our nation in the 21st century. Our work is just beginning.