SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - In the South Bay, a big rematch is taking shape in the 17th Congressional District race between incumbent Mike Honda and fellow Democrat Ro Khanna. Two years ago, Khanna narrowly lost to Congressman Honda in a contentious campaign.
Political experts are anticipating yet another heated close race going either way. Honda has served eight terms in Congress touting his experience while Khanna said he now has more name recognition. In the 2014 general election, Honda defeated Khanna by less than four percent, 4,700 votes separating the two candidates.
Since then, 39-year-old Stanford educator has kept knocking on doors and raising money. This time around, Khanna from Fremont said he's focusing more on local issues including the odors from a nearby landfill and the soccer parks in Santa Clara, running on a platform highlighting education.
"People respect that resilience that I didn't just go away," said Khanna. "I lost and I got involved in the community even more so and I'm running again."
Meantime, at campaign headquaters for Congressman Honda, they're also running an aggressive campaign. Honda's campaign manager Michael Beckendorf said they've raised nearly half a million dollars in the first three months of this year on track to deliver the 74-year-old's message of experience and fighting for the middle class. Honda has served in Congress since 2001.
"Unfortunately our opponent is supported by individuals who want to privatize social security, gut Medicare and support other policy positions that our hostile to working families," said Beckendorf.
"I think it has all the makings of a very close race and it could go either way," said Political Analyst Melinda Jackson. "A lot will depend on turnout."
Jackson said because both candidates are progressive Democrats and have few policy differences, both will be making the case they are the "true" Democrat. Also, Honda is currently in the middle of an ethics investigation over using government resources for his campaign.
San Jose City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio said he put his hat in the race as an alternative to Honda and Khanna, focused on fixing the national debt with a proven voting record.
"I'm in the race because the two people who are just spending millions of dollars telling voters how bad each other is," said Oliverio. "They are not talking about the real issues affecting the future of the country."
Oliverio admits he is an underdog. Two Republicans and a Libertarian are also running. Political experts said it will likely be Honda and Khanna as the top two finishers on June 7.