Brian Baer / Bee file, 2008

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, is bracing for a possible challenge by Ro Khanna, who has $1 million in campaign funds.

The Buzz: Same-party battles for California House seats already under way

Published: Monday, Mar. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A

Campaigns get an early start even in likely one-party races

Democrats and Republicans are already battling over key California congressional districts, but campaigns for seats unlikely to switch parties next year are picking up as well.

California now allows two candidates from the same party to compete in the general election, and that means tough primary challenges can extend into the fall.

That was true last year as two incumbents, Democratic Reps. Joe Baca and Pete Stark, lost to Democratic challengers.

This year, Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, is already trying to fend off a possible run by Ro Khanna, a 36-year-old attorney and former President Barack Obama appointee.

Khanna, who has more than $1 million in campaign funds in the bank, has yet to announce formal plans.

But Honda is holding fundraising events to build a campaign war chest and trumpeting early endorsements from Obama, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel.

Last week, Honda's team released an internal poll that gives him a 52-point lead over Khanna.

"Smart campaigns are hard-working and prepared campaigns," Honda campaign spokesman Dan Cohen said.

CAPITOL WATCH

The Legislature is on spring break until next Monday, but that doesn't mean the Capitol is empty. The last rounds of the Poetry Out Loud state finals get under way at 8 a.m. today in Senate chambers. High school students will compete in reading famous poems in hopes of heading to the national finals in Washington, D.C., next month.

WORTH REPEATING

"Everybody must like him. He's back again, right?"

JOE MONTANA, retired 49ers quarterback, shrugging off a question about Gov. Jerry Brown last week before being inducted into the California Hall of Fame

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