NO BORDERS, JUST FRIENDS IN SILICON VALLEY BATTLE

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The “one percent” of activists was in Sacramento for the California Democratic Party annual convention last weekend. For his 17th Congressional District run in 2014, Ro Khanna on Sunday afternoon was evangelizing to more than 150 of the ninety-nine percenters at Cupertino’s DeAnza College, calling to reinvent politics and economic policy in Silicon Valley and in the nation…TAX, JOBS, RESULTS: Among Khanna’s pledges – preserving government programs that “measurably achieve actual results,” identifying “sustainable” manufacturing jobs in the US and updating tax rules developed for a 1960s economy while encouraging US investment dollars to return from overseas…

17th Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna greets supporters at his campaign event at DeAnza College in Cupertino.

17th Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna greets supporters at his campaign event at DeAnza College in Cupertino.

SULU FOR HONDA: While the Khanna campaign has now $1 million as of March 31, incumbent Mike Honda’s national fundraising efforts are led by an “avid surfer” in Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke of the Arum Group. In the first quarter, Honda has raised over $213,000 for 2014 re-election after raising $900,000 for re-election last year…Among Honda’s APA donors – George Takei (the original “Hikaru Sulu” from Star Trekas opposed to John Cho) and Shelly Kapoor Collins, founder of Enscient Corporation…Besides Kapoor, Honda on Apr. 9 circulated endorsements by five South Asian American and former congressional candidates – former Kansas legislator Raj Goyle, New Jersey Assemblyman and Deputy Speaker Upendra Chivukula, attorneys J. Ashwin Madia of Minnesota and Ravi Sangisetty of Louisiana and Dr. Manan Trivedi of Pennsylvania. Honda has been shoring up his South Asian American base – releasing March internal polls showing overwhelming 59%-14% support…

Rep. Mike Honda (center) with Santa Clara University students and their underwater research vehicle in 2010. Photo courtesy of Rep. Honda office.

Rep. Mike Honda (center) with Santa Clara University students and their underwater research vehicle in 2010. Photo courtesy of Rep. Honda office.

KIDS ON CODE: Khanna, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (now Ambassador to China), noted a teacher’s observation that schools are “technology poor” compared to “technology rich” Silicon Valley. Elementary school students, he said, should learn to program computer code. “If there’s a website more important than RoKhanna.com, it’s Code.org,” he said. Following his tome of achieving actual results, the Stanford and Santa Clara University professor would tie federal education dollars to encourage schools and the private sector work to “teach real world, employable skills that lead to an actual job”…COME TO A LAND WITHOUT LIMITS: Khanna tied his grandfather’s four years in jail for supporting Gandhi’s independence movement to MLK’s civil rights movement that ushered in the 1965 Immigration Act and allowed his parents to come to a “land without limits.” While bringing back overseas US dollars, he emphasized immigration reforms encouraging “job creators” to come to the US. He would encourage educated immigrants in “meaningful” fields or with high degrees to stay. “We should stop wasting our energy to kick them out”…

FRIENDS NOT BORDERS: Speaking in the vernacular of FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, Khanna envisioned America as a “beacon of innovation” for an open, peaceful and democratic world. “We aren’t limited by borders. We aren’t limited by ideology. We don’t speak the stale language of balance of power and politics. We just have friends from China…India…Pakistan and Middle East. That is why people look to Silicon Valley as a place for innovation, unencumbered by past struggles along racial, religious or national lines. It represents America at its best, the 21st century at its best.”

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Campaign director Tony Nagatani urges more than 150 Khanna supporters to text their support for Ro Khanna.

TEAM OBAMA WITHOUT OBAMA: Khanna has the Obama campaign written all over it, but without the President who’s endorsing incumbent Mike Honda along with Nancy Pelosi, State Attorney General Kamala Harris, Rep. Judy Chu, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean , Rep. Steve Israel of the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee and other top Dems…Instead, there’s a Khanna “dream team” of campaign managers and consultants supplanting endorsements: General Consultant Jeremy Bird and several top field generals who are also APA – Campaign Manager Leah Cowan – the Pacific Islander American rally emcee and Organizing Director Tony Nagatani, cheerleading about 200 supporters to cry “Fired up” and “Ready for Ro” and then texting out Khanna’s campaign number…Also on the team, consultant Lynda Tran – former National Press Secretary for pro-Obama Organizing for America. She’s a business partner with Bird, the former Obama National Field Director in 2012. He promised the best data analytics” for a “sophisticated” congressional race “that lives up to the promise of Silicon Valley”…

WONKS NAMED DAVID: Before wonky political analysts named David (as in Lee of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee and Latterman of USF) for years dispensed free punditry and analyses, pollster David Binder kept the tradition going on the SF political circuit pulling free nuggets from his election maps and polls to numerous audiences. His best work - District Elections Guidebook, a must read before SF district elections implementation in 2000…He’s pollster for Khanna’s campaign…

GOP DREAM TEAM?: While Republicans nationally and state have gone thru an “autopsy” and are rebranding themselves as a kindler, gentler and more open party, their brethren in the national and state Democratic Party in deep, deep blue state of California aren’t as fertile for that talk. The state party last weekend was on its laurels after re-electing Obama, holding nearly every state constitutional office, picking up seats to get SF’s Nancy Pelosi closer to House Speaker and seizing supermajorities in the legislature. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has hired former Bay Area local Stephen Fong and East Coaster Jason Chung respectively as RNC National API Field Director and Communications Director. Fong is also former president of the SF Log Cabin Republicans, which the RNC didn’t brag about. However, RNC considers APAs as a “demographic partner”…In the RNC’s Nov. 2012 post-election mortem Growth and Opportunity Project report, APA groups urged the party to “stop talking about outreach and begin talking about inclusion” and stop the “‘flyover campaign’ mentality” of siphoning off campaign donations while “not substantively engag[ing] with members of the communities.”

MR. PRESIDENT, WHO’S BETTER LOOKING?: Groups like EMERGE have long ago supplanted local beauty contests which actually offered unofficial training as political candidates – raising money, seeking sponsors/endorsements and zillions of community appearances as in former supervisor candidates - Rose Chung, a former Miss Chinatown and ex-supervisor aide and Rose Ball Queen contestant Jaynry Mak… Many hissed Obama last week over judging candidates on looks. However, a State Attorney General, member of the Obama team with local Bay Area ties has taken the same beauty contest path. No, not California Attorney General Kamala Harris…It’s Jennifer GranholmCNN pundit and former Governor of Michigan and ex-Miss San Carlos.…

State Attorney General Kamala Harris, beauty contestant?

State Attorney General Kamala Harris, beauty contestant?

DON’T YOU EYEBALL MY HOUSE: Although District 4 (Sunset) Supervisor Katy Tang’s cut from the same political cloth, does she run on coattails of her former boss and Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu? Although popular, Chu’s potential liability is being the top official valuing real estate for property taxes…But then again, Assessor Phil Ting’s trouncing of Michael Breyer, scion of an associate US Supreme Court Justice, in 2012 proved the office wasn’t a political career dead end or taxing liability to advance to State Assembly. But Phil was always on the job as the Assessor took mental notes as he passed each property in a Cherry Blossom Festival parade convertible years ago. Also, expect the omniscient Carmen to receive fewer invitations for open houses – new or remodeled…

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net and  follow him at Twitter @SFPotstickers…

 

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.