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Former Obama Administration Official Raises More Than $1 Million In Bid To Unseat Silicon Valley Incumbent

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, July 10 2013

Silicon Valley attorney Ro Khanna, who previously served as a top Commerce Department official in the Obama administration, announced Wednesday that he has raised more than $1 million during the inaugural quarter of his campaign to unseat House Democrat Mike Honda.

His campaign stressed that the money came from individuals, wasn't self-financed, and didn't come from political action committees, lobbyists or any other kinds of special interest groups. As several publications pointed out today, that level of fundraising is highly unusual for insurgent campaigns.

But that's also a function of geography and some of those individuals backing Khanna. The campaign on Wednesday pointed out some of the additional high flyers of Silicon Valley who've signed up to support Honda's challenger. They include tech entrepreneur, author and engineer Judy Estrin, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, TellMe Networks and Flipboard co-founder Mike McCue, venture capitalists Marc Andreesen, Theresia Gouw, Josh Green, and Arvind Sodhani, Seagate Technology CEO Stephen Luczo, former Vodaphone CEO Arun Sarin.

In all, the campaign disclosed that more than 681 donors gave to Khanna during the second quarter. For his part, Honda's campaign disclosed Wednesday that more than 1,100 donors had contributed $345,143 to his re-election campaign in the same period, bringing his 2014 cycle fundraising total to $559,000.

Wednesday was not a good day for Honda. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office informed his office that due to its budget being cut, it wouldn't be able to open a highly-anticipated satellite office in the area after all, something that tech companies have been lobbying Washington for for years.

Honda and his other Bay Area House colleagues Reps. Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren introduced a bill last week that would exempt the USPTO from sequestration and restore funding to the office by allowing the office to use the revenues from the fees generated from patent applications.

Though the race affects just the inhabitants of the 40 mile patch of the district, it's raised national interest. In an interview at Netroots Nation in June, Democracy for America's returning Executive Director Charles Chamberlain told me that DFA is likely to urge its 200,000 members in California to support Honda. The group has yet to endorse a candidate, but whatever support it provides will also involve fundraising, he said.

This article has been updated to clarify that the 200,000 DFA members mentioned are in California. Nationally, DFA has a membership of a million people.