Challenger Ro Khanna squeaked by eight-time incumbent Mike Honda in a hotly contested California congressional race in the only Asian American majority district in the continental United States Tuesday.
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Khanna won 33,785(38.3%)of the votes to Honda’s 33,608(38.1%). That’s a difference of just 177 votes.
The race in Santa Clara County sets up a rematch of the general election in 2014 when Honda narrowly defeated Khanna by just 5,000 votes. Since neither candidate received a majority. a runoff will be held. Under California’s open primary system, the top two vote-getters, despite both being Democrats, will face off.
As the results came in, Khanna sounded upbeat and Honda, who returned to Washington D.C. rather than watch the results from his home district, remained determined.
“I have never taken any of my campaigns for granted, and I am ready to fight tooth and nail ahead of Nov. 8.” Honda said in a statement.
“I was shocked and ecstatic and very, very humbled when I heard the results,” Khanna said to the Mercury News. “It shows that my message is really resonating and people want change.”
Honda has been beleaguered by an ethics probe stemming from the 2014 election when he was accused of using staff resources and tax dollars for his campaign.
Khanna has transformed from his technology heavy image of 2014 to a candidate in touch with local issues in 2016.
“We know the turnout will be higher in the fall, and to the extent that more traditional Democrats will come out, that will be a plus for Honda,” said political analyst Larry Gerston. “But we also know there is a very strong undercurrent of anti-incumbent sentiment, so that will be a plus for Khanna. Both candidates can walk away from this with some satisfaction but also fear.”