Voters Tuesday night gave Ro Khanna his shot at upending long-time House of Representatives member Mike Honda (D-San Jose) in the November general election.
In a race where the challenger has raised millions from household Silicon Valley names, Khanna finished second in the primary with about 27 percent of the vote. Even though he’s a Democrat, California’s top-two primary system pits the candidates with the most votes in the primary, regardless of party, in November’s general election.
Honda took nearly 49 percent of the vote in a primary that saw less than 58,000 vote as of this morning. House districts represent about 700,000 people.
The race is fascinating, since it will prove whether big Silicon Valley support can replace a sitting representative of the same party — a nearly impossible feat of political strength in the Democratic party in California.
Khanna’s campaign includes support from the likes of Sean Parker and Marissa Mayer, and his team is fueled by 270 Strategies, the digital-focused campaigning machine that helped get President Barack Obama elected twice.
Khanna’s campaign told me early this year that they don’t expect him to have outmatched his opponent in the primary; they just needed to win enough to get a head-to-head fight and a 1-on-1 political debate.
In addition to Silicon Valley muscle, Khanna picked up the endorsement of the San Francisco Chronicle, the region’s largest daily newspaper. That endorsement could be a major factor going in to the general election, and it already represents a win for Khanna’s Silicon Valley supporters.
We’ll be following this race closely. It is, in many ways, predictive of the power the tech industry can have over the next few years.