Ro Khanna, the former Obama administration official seeking to unseat fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda in 2014, slowed his white-hot fundraising pace but still raked in more than the incumbent in this year's third quarter, leaving Khanna with almost three and a half times as much money in the bank.
Khanna reported raising $504,450 from 542 donors in the third quarter, with 89 percent of the money coming from California and none from political action committees or federally registered lobbyists. He had $1.9 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
But Honda, D-San Jose, paints the race as a tortoise-and-hare affair in which Khanna is depleting his supply of deep-pocketed donors while Honda collects smaller amounts from a larger pool of contributors who'll carry him through the long haul.
In an email to supporters Tuesday, Honda campaign manager Doug Greven wrote that Honda received more than 1,100 individual contributions totaling more than $385,000 from July 1 through Sept. 30. Spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said later that Honda had just over $550,000 cash on hand.
"Our opponent's campaign, which is dependent on money from people who can afford to write max-out checks, only raised half of what it did last quarter," Greven wrote. "After bills were paid this quarter, both campaigns will each be adding the same amount -- around $200,000 -- to their bank accounts."
Asked for a geographic breakdown of Honda's contributions and a list of notable donors, Kembaiyan replied that "what's notable are the 1,100 contributions the campaign received from individuals nationwide, more than half of which were $100 or less. Grass-roots support is what is fueling Congressman Honda's campaign."
But Khanna said his is the true "grassroots and constituent-driven campaign."
"My message is resonating because people have had enough with the dysfunction and finger-pointing in Congress," he said in a news release. "Folks are calling for new energy and leadership on the economy, and an approach that focuses on finding common ground and delivering results for people, not special interests."
A Campaign Finance Institute analysis found that a successful 2012 House campaign cost an average of $1,596,953.
Because the third-quarter filing deadline is Oct. 15, it's not yet clear how Khanna's and Honda's fundraising compares with other current House races.
Khanna, 37, of Fremont, is challenging Honda, 72, and seeking his eighth term, in next June's "top-two" primary: All candidates of all parties compete head-to-head, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the November general election regardless of party.
The 17th District race is among the nation's most closely watched intraparty dogfights, pitting two Asian-Americans against each other in the continental United States' first majority Asian-American district. Each is trying to prove he's a better bet for Silicon Valley's tech economy and working families.
Khanna and Honda have sparred in recent months over the merits of an immediate expansion of Social Security benefits, as well as over whether Honda should be accepting his salary during the government shutdown. Though Khanna served for two years as a deputy assistant secretary at Obama's Commerce Department, the president has endorsed Honda for re-election.
Khanna raised $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2011 but chose not to challenge Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, who was later defeated by Democrat Eric Swalwell. After he declaring his candidacy in this race, he raised $1.03 million in this year's second quarter, compared to Honda's $345,000.
Khanna's third-quarter donors include at least three "bundlers" who helped gather hundreds of thousands of dollars for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign: Sandi Thompson of Woodside, an attorney and wife of former Symantec CEO John Thompson; Andy Spahn of Los Angeles, a movie studio lobbyist turned consultant; and Ellen Susman, a journalist and activist from Houston.
Other notable Bay Area donors to Khanna's campaign in the third quarter included former Palm Inc. CEO Donna Dubinsky of Portola Valley; eBay President and CEO John Donahoe of Portola Valley; former San Francisco 49er Ronnie Lott of Cupertino; venture capitalist David Wagonfeld of Hillsborough; Google senior vice presidents Vic Gundotra of Los Gatos and Sundar Pichai of Los Altos Hills; Zynga cofounder Mark Pincus and his wife, Alison, cofounder of an interior and personal design company, of San Francisco; and Hewlett-Packard senior vice president Tony Prophet of Hillsborough.