Democrat Ro Khanna appears finally to be gaining ground in his closely-watched race against Rep. Mike Honda, with a new poll showing a dead heat and Honda attacking his challenger for the first time in a television ad.
The Honda ad, launched Monday, claims Khanna is backed by right-wing billionaires, favors tax breaks for rich people and isn't committed to protecting Social Security.
Khanna emailed supporters Monday to say the ad is "full of lies," but he lacks the money to air a rebuttal. His campaign had less than $100,000 left to spend as of Sept. 30, while the seven-term incumbent had close to $1 million banked for the final weeks of the bruising battle between the two Democrats for the 17th Congressional District seat, recent reports show. [via @mercnews]
"It's not just the poll -- the fact that the incumbent is running an ad hard against his challenger indicates he thinks the race is close," said Corey Cook, who directs the University of San Francisco's Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. "Honda's campaign thinks if they can persuade Democratic voters to stay with the 'more Democratic' candidate, they're going to be successful. It's a clear 'campaign to the base' kind of move."
Cook said the ad comes a bit late, given that vote-by-mail ballots have been in the field for two weeks already, and up to two-thirds of all voters are expected to use them. "But in a close race, it can certainly make a difference if the charges go unanswered."