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Indian-American lawyer in race for Congressional seat

Last Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 16:08

New York: An Indian-American patent lawyer, vying for a congressional seat in the Silicon Valley, has been endorsed by top executives from technology giants like Google, as he seeks to oust a seven-term Democrat endorsed by President Barack Obama.

Ro Khanna, a 37-year-old Democrat, has mounted an "aggressive campaign" for the seat from the 17th Congressional District in the San Francisco Bay area, challenging and significantly outraising Representative Michael Honda, 72, who was first elected to Congress in 2000 and has the support of the rest of the Democratic establishment.

According to a report in the New York Times yesterday, Khanna has the backing of many of Silicon Valley`s top investors and executives, including Google`s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo`s chief executive Marissa Mayer, Randi Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Zuckerberg Media and the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
It is because of this tech support that Khanna has raised USD 1,975,000 in cash four months before the primaries, more than triple the USD 623,000 Honda has raised, according to campaign finance records.

The average size of individual contributions to Khanna`s campaign is more than double to those of Honda`s.

"The money gives Khanna an advantage in what could become one of the costliest congressional races in the nation," NYT said.

"Whether or not this political start-up is ultimately successful, Khanna`s campaign underscores the tech industry`s push to elect candidates who will further?its interests in Washington, even if that means, as in this race, trying to replace a party stalwart with a relative unknown," it said.

Using the jargon of tech start-ups, Khanna said he will be a "disruptive" force in Washington.

He said there is need for "Government 2.0" and a "reset" of Congress. Khanna said of his list of tech endorsers, "everyone who is seen as a person of the future has endorsed our campaign".

Khanna has authored `Entrepreneurial Nation`, a book on manufacturing and American competitiveness, and was a deputy assistant commerce secretary from 2009 to 2011. He now represents technology companies in intellectual property cases at one of Silicon Valley`s most prestigious law firms.
Honda`s supporters have labelled Khanna a "Silicon Valley groupie" whose wealthy donors are trying to buy a congressional seat.

Honda has said he represents the interests not only of the technology companies but also of the wider district.

"It`s about experience, the time you spent in the community, your record and people`s expectations," he said.

Interestingly, another Indian-American, Republican candidate Vanila Singh will be competing against Khanna.

First Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 16:08

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