California's 17th Congressional District elections, 2014

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California's 17th Congressional District

General Election Date
November 4, 2014

Primary Date
June 3, 2014

November 4 Election Winner:
Mike Honda Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Mike Honda Democratic Party
Mike Honda.jpg

Race Ratings
Cook Political Report: Solid D[1]

Sabato's Crystal Ball: Safe D[2]

California U.S. House Elections
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2014 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of California.png
The 17th Congressional District of California held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 4, 2014.

After finishing more than 20 percentage points behind incumbent Mike Honda (D) in the June 3 blanket primary, Ro Khanna (D) ran a strong campaign that made the race increasingly competitive as election day neared. Ultimately, Honda narrowly defeated Khanna by just under 5,000 votes in the general election, which took three days to officially call.

In his victory speech Honda said, “Together we sent a message this election could not be bought by super PACs and right-wing millionaires and billionaires. This district, and our democracy, are not for sale.”[3] Honda was referring to the endorsements and financial backing Khanna received from tech industry executives, including Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.[3]

Honda received the backing of "more traditional Democratic players," including President Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi,, Planned Parenthood and labor unions.[4]

According to Politico, "Honda, for months, touted his congressional seniority and his support among Democratic brass. Khanna, by contrast, pledged to be a more vocal, active advocate for the district."[3] While Honda appealed to traditionally liberal Democrats, Khanna attempted to appeal to moderate Democrats, Independents and Republicans by presenting himself as a bipartisan, pro-business Democrat.

The race tightened after Honda and Khanna defeated Vanila Singh (R) and Joel Vanlandingham (R) in the blanket primary election on June 3, 2014. In October, Larry Gerston, emeritus professor of political science at San Jose State University, said, “It’s reasonable to think this thing has tightened. With two Democrats in the race, there’s no place for the Republicans to go, and it’s logical to expect Khanna to pick up most of them, since he’s more conservative than Honda.”[5] Khanna also closed in on Honda by flooding the airwaves with ads and knocking on more than 6,000 doors.[6]

When asked about his future plans, Honda, who will begin his eighth term in Congress in 2015, said, "I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to live until 103. There's no reason to retire."[7]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
March 7, 2014
June 3, 2014
November 4, 2014

Primary: California is one of three states to use a blanket primary, or top-two system, which allows all candidates to run and all voters to vote but only moves the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, to the general election.[8][9][10]

Voter registration: To vote in the primary, voters had to register by May 19, 2014. For the general election, the voter registration deadline was October 20, 2014 (the 15th calendar day before that election).[11]

See also: California elections, 2014

Incumbent: Heading into the election the incumbent was Mike Honda (D), who was first elected in 2000.

California's 17th Congressional District is located in the western portion of the state and includes western Santa Clara County.[12]


General election candidates

Democratic Party Mike Honda Approveda
Democratic Party Ro Khanna

June 3, 2014, primary results

Democratic Party Mike Honda - Incumbent Approveda
Democratic Party Ro Khanna - Former U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary[13] Approveda
Republican Party Vanila Singh
Republican Party Joel Vanlandingham


Republican Party Vinesh Singh Rathore

Election results

General election

U.S. House, California District 17 General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMike Honda Incumbent 51.8% 69,561
     Democratic Ro Khanna 48.2% 64,847
Total Votes 134,408
Source: California Secretary of State

Primary election

U.S. House, California District 17 Primary, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMike Honda Incumbent 48.2% 43,607
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngRo Khanna 28% 25,384
     Republican Vanila Singh 17% 15,359
     Republican Joel Vanlandingham 6.8% 6,154
Total Votes 90,504
Source: California Secretary of State

Race background

Primaries to watch

Politico published a list in August 2013 of the five primaries to watch in 2014. California's 17th Congressional District was included on the list.[14]

The race extended beyond the June 3 primary due to California's blanket primary system.[14] Under California’s newly implemented “Top-Two” system, the top two finishers in the primary advance to the November general election, regardless of their party affiliation.[14]

Mike Honda

Mike Honda (D) was regarded on Capitol Hill as a well-liked and congenial figure.[14] Honda had President Barack Obama's endorsement and the backing of Democratic power brokers, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel.[14] While Khanna drew support from Silicon Valley’s large Indian-American population, Honda enjoyed long-standing ties to the Asian-American community, who make up nearly half the district.[14]

Ro Khanna

Challenger Ro Khanna, who taught at Stanford University and works at a Silicon Valley law firm, tapped a vast network of tech donors to give Honda a surprisingly tough fight in 2014.[14] During the second quarter of 2013, the challenger raised over $1 million and reported having $1.7 million cash on hand — more than four times the amount Honda had.[14] Khanna went on to raise $504,450 in the third quarter and reported having $1.9 million on hand.[15] Khanna built a formidable operation filled with veterans of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, including Jeremy Bird, Obama’s national field director in 2012, and David Binder, one of the president’s pollsters.[14]

Khanna's campaign was largely funded by many of the technology industry's biggest names, including Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Napster founder Sean Parker, investor Marc Andreessen and venture capitalist Steve Westly.[16]

Sham candidates

On March 24, 2014, a member of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee filed a lawsuit claiming that two Republican candidates in the race were "sham candidates," who attempted to split the Republican vote, which caused no Republican to advance to the general election. The lawsuit charged that Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore, two Republican candidates who filed at the last minute, were "sham candidates" attempting to take votes from Vanila Singh.[17]

Vinesh Singh Rathore was removed from the ballot on March 26, 2014, by a Superior Court in Sacramento on the grounds that he only collected 38 of the required 40 valid nominating signatures. Joel Vanlandingham remained on the ballot because no legal reason was found to remove him.[18]

Campaign spending

On January 23, 2014, challenger Ro Khanna sent a letter to Mike Honda proposing that the candidates take a pledge limiting spending in the race from outside groups and Super PACs. In response, Honda's campaign replied with a letter that raised the stakes and proposed a donation limit of $570.[19]

The letter stated, "We propose that all campaigns refund contributions to any donors who have already given more than this limit of $570. Your campaign can start by refunding the $11,000 in contributions from the five donors who have already requested a refund because Ro misled them. He had asked for their max-out contributions to run for an open seat, then used their money to run in a different district -- against Mike."[19]

The letter continued, "Then your campaign can continue by refunding contributions to Marc Leder (gave $5,200 to Ro) who hosted Mitt Romney for the fundraiser where he made his 47% remark, and Peter Thiel (gave $2,500 to Ro) who has given millions to the Club for Growth in order to elect far-right conservatives like Ted Cruz."[19]

Key votes

Below are important votes the incumbent cast during the 113th Congress.

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Nay3.png On September 30, 2013, the House passed a final stopgap spending bill before the shutdown went into effect. The bill included a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and would have also stripped the bill of federal subsidies for congressional members and staff. It passed through the House with a vote of 228-201.[20] At 1 a.m. on October 1, 2013, one hour after the shutdown officially began, the House voted to move forward with going to a conference. In short order, Sen. Harry Reid rejected the call to conference.[21] Mike Honda voted against the stopgap spending bill that would have delayed the individual mandate.[22]

Yea3.png The shutdown ended on October 16, 2013, when the House took a vote on HR 2775 after it was approved by the Senate. The bill to reopen the government lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[23] The House passed the legislation shortly after the Senate, by a vote of 285-144, with all 144 votes against the legislation coming from Republican members. [[Mike Honda] voted for HR 2775.[24]


Mike Honda

Honda received the endorsement of the Democratic Party in a local vote on February 8, 2014.[25]

Honda also received the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters.[26]

On September 2, 2014, Honda was endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown. Brown said, "Mike Honda has dedicated his career to tackling difficult issues and doing what’s right for working people. After leading the local effort to bring BART to San Jose, Mike got $900 million in federal funding for the project, creating 10,000 jobs for the Silicon Valley. Mike is an effective advocate in Congress for his district and all of California – I’m proud to support him."[27]

Ro Khanna

Khanna was endorsed by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.[28]


Mike Honda vs. Ro Khanna
Poll Mike Honda Ro KhannaUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
David Binder Research - for Ro Khanna (October 8-9, 2014)
Lake Research - for Mike Honda (October 7-12, 2014)
Democracy for America (February 13-16, 2014)
Public Policy Polling (August 2-4, 2013)
AVERAGES 47.5% 29.75% 22.75% +/-4.3 552.75
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to


Mike Honda

2012 video of Ro Khanna praising Mike Honda

Ro Khanna

Ro Khanna - My Promise

Ro Khanna - For Real

Ro Khanna - Tomorrow

Campaign contributions

Mike Honda

Ro Khanna

Vanila Singh

**As of the 2014 Pre-Primary Report, Singh's committee owed $79,000 in outstanding loans to Vanila Singh.

District history

Candidate ballot access
Ballot Access Requirements Final.jpg

Find detailed information on ballot access requirements in all 50 states and Washington D.C.


On November 6, 2012, Mike Honda (D) won re-election to the United States House. He defeated Evelyn Li in the general election.

U.S. House, California District 17 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMike Honda Incumbent 73.5% 159,392
     Republican Evelyn Li 26.5% 57,336
Total Votes 216,728
Source: California Secretary of State "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"


On November 2, 2010, Sam Farr won re-election to the United States House. He defeated Jeff Taylor (R), Eric Petersen (G), Mary Larkin (L) and Ronald Kabat (Write-in) in the general election.[48]

U.S. House, California District 17 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngSam Farr incumbent 66.7% 118,734
     Republican Jeff Taylor 29.9% 53,176
     Green Eric Petersen 1.9% 3,397
     Libertarian Mary Larkin 1.5% 2,742
     Write-in Ronald Kabat 0.1% 90
Total Votes 178,139

See also

External links


  1. Cook Political Report, "2014 HOUSE RACE RATINGS FOR June 26, 2014," accessed July 28, 2014
  2. Sabato's Crystal Ball, "2014 House Races," accessed July 28, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Politico, "Mike Honda defeats Ro Khanna in Calif.," accessed December 5, 2014
  4., "The Final Report: Mike Honda vs. Ro Khanna," accessed December 8, 2014
  5., "Rep. Mike Honda attacks Ro Khanna as race tightens," accessed December 8, 2014
  6., "New Poll Shows CA-17 Race is a Dead Heat," accessed December 8, 2014
  7. NBC, ""I'm Not Going Anywhere": Mike Honda Declares Victory Over Ro Khanna in 17th District Race," accessed December 8, 2014
  8. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  9. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  10. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  11. California Secretary of State Website, "Voter Registration," accessed January 3, 2014
  12. California Redistricting Map, "Map," accessed September 25, 2012
  13. The San Francisco Chronicle," "Rep Honda to face Ro Khanna challenge," April 2, 2013 (dead link)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 Politico, "5 House primaries to watch," accessed August 8, 2013
  15. Politico, "Ro Khanna raises $500K in bid against Mike Honda," October 8, 2013
  16. The Washington Post, "In Silicon Valley, tech titans try to replace a longtime Democratic congressman," June 2, 2014
  17. Ballot Access News, "California Republican Party Official Files Lawsuit, Asserting that Two Republican Congressional Candidates are “Sham” Candidates and Should be Removed from Ballot," March 27, 2014
  18. Ballot Access News, "One So-Called “Sham” Republican is Removed from California Primary Ballot," March 27, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Letter from Ro Khanna to Congressman Mike Honda, January 23, 2014
  20. Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  21. Buzzfeed, "Government Shutdown: How We Got Here," accessed October 1, 2013
  22. Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  23. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  24. U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 550," accessed October 31, 2013
  25. Campaign website, "Rep. Mike Honda Receives 92% of Votes from CA-17 Democrats for State Party Endorsement of Re-Election Campaign," February 10, 2014
  26. League of Conservation Voters, "LCV Action Fund endorses Congressman Mike Honda for re-election," March 6, 2014
  27. Political Blotter, "CA17: Gov. Jerry Brown endorses Mike Honda," September 2, 2014
  28. The Fresno Bee, "San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, endorses Swearengin," July 29, 2014
  29. Federal Election Commission, "Mike Honda April Quarterly," accessed July 23, 2013
  30. Federal Election Commission, "Mike Honda July Quarterly," accessed July 23, 2013
  31. Federal Election Commission, "Mike Honda October Quarterly," accessed October 21, 2013
  32. Federal Election Commission, "Mike Honda Year-End," accessed February 4, 2014
  33. Federal Election Commission, "Mike Honda April Quarterly," accessed April 21, 2014
  34. Federal Election Commission, "Mike Honda Pre-Primary," accessed June 2, 2014
  35. Federal Election Commission, "Mike Honda July Quarterly," accessed July 23, 2014
  36. Federal Election Commission, "Mike Honda October Quarterly," accessed October 20, 2014
  37. Federal Election Commission, "Ro Khanna April Quarterly," accessed February 10, 2014
  38. Federal Election Commission, "Ro Khanna July Quarterly," accessed February 10, 2014
  39. Federal Election Commission, "Ro Khanna October Quarterly," accessed February 10, 2014
  40. Federal Election Commission, "Ro Khanna Year-End," accessed February 10, 2014
  41. Federal Election Commission, "Ro Khanna April Quarterly," accessed May 5, 2014
  42. Federal Election Commission, "Ro Khanna Pre-Primary," accessed June 2, 2014
  43. Federal Election Commission, "Ro Khanna July Quarterly," accessed July 28, 2014
  44. Federal Election Commission, "Ro Khanna October Quarterly," accessed October 23, 2014
  45. Federal Election Commission, "Vanila Singh Year-End," accessed February 10, 2014
  46. Federal Election Commission, "Vanila Singh April Quarterly," accessed May 5, 2014
  47. Federal Election Commission, "Vanila Singh Pre-Primary," accessed June 2, 2014
  48. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013