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Honda, Khanna Reprise Battle Over Silicon Valley Congressional Seat

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Two men looking to represent the state's 17th Congressional District are in another faceoff with one another in Tuesday's general election.

Incumbent Mike Honda and lawyer Rohit "Ro" Khanna are looking to win the majority vote in their second contest for the district that covers southern Alameda County and northern Santa Clara County.

In 2014, Honda won the majority of votes by nearly 4 percent. Khanna won the primary election in June by 2 percent.

Honda, 75, has spent the past 16 years on the U.S. House of Representatives where he sits on the House Appropriations Committee. He was on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and state Assembly before serving in national office.

Khanna, 40, was deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce between 2009 and 2011 under an appointment by President Barack Obama. He's also a graduate of Yale Law School and a visiting lecturer at Stanford University.

Honda has received endorsements from Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The list also includes more than 50 current or retired elected leaders in local, state or national office.

Khanna also has notable endorsements from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former President Jimmy Carter and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. He is also supported by more than a dozen current city leaders within the district and over 100 tech leaders.

Honda's issues close to his heart include making sure working- and middle-class families have a level-playing field with people working in the tech industry of Silicon Valley, Patel said.

The congressman has used his role at the appropriations committee to bring investments into infrastructure such as BART, affordable housing, dealing with the backlog of untested rape kits in collaboration with the Department of Justice and more science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, according to Patel.

Honda's early years on a Japanese-American internment camp in Colorado has helped influence his everyday work, Patel said.

Honda's legislative track record and community members are familiar with his work, making him a standout candidate compared to his opponent who isn't as in tune with the Democratic base, Honda's campaign spokesman Vedant Patel said.

One of red flag in Khanna's candidacy is that he has collected the most money from Wall Street and the security and exchange industry than any House challenger across the country, Patel said.

Khanna claims to be a progressive, but has received large campaign contributions from people such as PayPal and Palantir Technologies co-founder Peter Thiel supporting Donald Trump for president.

Republicans have donated to Khanna's campaign in addition to Honda's campaign, which has received more than $100,000 in donations from people in the party, Khanna's campaign manager Michael Ambler said.

Khanna is one of eight candidates for federal office nationwide that pledged to not accept donations from corporations, PACs and special interest groups, Ambler said.

Khanna is looking to prepare for a high-tech economy through investing in infrastructure to help build the green industry and automation, according to Ambler.

Many manufacturing jobs that built the country's middle class are declining that has led to an economic decline over the past 20 to 30 years, but high-tech alternatives can help reverse the trend, Ambler said.

If elected, Khanna would also prioritize education by putting in money to help provide early education, debt-free college and vocational courses, Ambler said.

Khanna worked to bring American jobs back to the country during his tenure at the Department of Commerce, according to Ambler.

Khanna's taking on policy issues that will define the country for the next half-century, Ambler said.

Honda remains under investigation by the House Office of Congressional Ethics for using taxpayers' money for his 2014 campaign and providing favors to his wealthy campaign contributors, Ambler said.

The congressman lacks a track record and only passed one bill to rename a post office during his time at the House, according to Ambler.

A federal lawsuit filed in September accuses Khanna's campaign of accessing confidential files to learn more about Honda's supporters.

Brian Parvizshahi was an intern with a financial consultant to Honda's campaign and allegedly edited Dropbox files after leaving the position, later joining Khanna's campaign where he was campaign manager, but has since stepped down.

Ambler called the lawsuit against Khanna's campaign a political ploy by Honda's camp, who knew about the alleged problems earlier this year but filed the suit immediately before the general election.

In an Oct. 24 court file on the case, attorneys for Khanna's campaign agreed to send Honda's campaign counsel a list of people and email addresses receiving Khanna's campaign mailers.

The court also instructed Honda's campaign counsel to provide attorneys for Khanna's campaign with copies of the Dropbox files along with names and addresses of people to cross-check with the list of those contacted by Khanna's campaign.

© Copyright 2016 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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