Some key investors in Silicon Valley are hoping to unseat a congressman who, by all accounts, is pretty friendly to their goals. It’s a long shot — as is any attempt to unseat an incumbent — but the campaign just won a potentially significant ally.
Last weekend, Democrat Ro Khanna, who is backed by the likes of former Facebook president Sean Parker, picked up a key newspaper endorsement from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Khanna is running for the Democratic nomination for the district currently held by Mike Honda, also a Democrat, which includes San Jose and much of Silicon Valley. While the Chronicle’s circulation is waning and much of its iconic building is now leased out to startups, its political endorsements still carry some weight in the area.
“The word among tech executives who are supporting Khanna is that incumbent Honda generally has been supportive of their positions. They just want more. They want — and this district deserves — a stronger voice in Washington,” the Chronicle said in its endorsement, choosing Khanna over long-time Democrat, Mike Honda, in the upcoming northern California primary.
Khanna has grabbed national headlines for his close ties to Silicon Valley. Supporters like Parker and investor Marc Andreesen helped him rake in a staggering $3.73 million — roughly double the $1.91M in Honda’s war chest.
The influential 270 Strategies group, founded by alumni of the Obama campaign, has also been leading Khanna’s charge to unseat Honda.
The battle is not a matter of policy. “The two men largely agreed on nearly every issue,” explains the San Jose Mercury News. And, Honda can boast that he helped bring home lucrative contracts for the Bay Area, including $900 million in federal funding to extend the BART commuter train to his district of San Jose.
Both candidates pretty much agree on immigration, STEM education, the economy and more. However, Silicon Valley wants a representative that offers political clout to match its economic influence on the national stage. Honda cannot boast of many major legislative victors on the big tech issues.
Silicon Valley backers are betting that the 37-year-old patent lawyer and trade representative for Obama will have more muscle.
Nor does Khanna really shy away from his close relationship. “I wear ‘tech groupie’ as a badge of honor,” he said.
If Khanna wins this race it’ll be a watershed moment for Silicon Valley. We’ll be watching closely.