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US polls: Indian American Ro Khanna concedes defeat

By Ritu Jha
Last updated on: November 08, 2014 12:10 IST
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Indian-American Ro Khanna on Saturday conceded defeat after giving the seven-term Congressman and incumbent Mike Honda the toughest fight of his life for the Silicon Valley Congressional seat.

The 38-year-old patent attorney, Khanna, conceded to his opponent from Democratic party, Honda, acknowledging the 73-year-old lawmaker has an insurmountable lead in a race that gained national attention.

Honda was leading with 4,000-plus vote lead and both candidates agreed it would be impossible to reverse it, even though counting of postal and absentee ballots were still going on.

In his speech, Khanna said that a long campaign had come to a close.

"My hope is that those engaged on both sides will channel their extraordinary talent to solve our nation's most urgent challenge: We need to figure out how to create a strong middle class in a changing, global economy. I believe, more than ever, that our district has so much to offer in building a fair and prosperous economic future for our nation in the 21st century. Our work is just beginning."

On whether he thought he had given 100 per cent and wish there were few more weeks to go, Khanna told, "We always said that this was a race against time. We were literally tied with Congressman Honda on election day."

"And I think yeah, we probably ran out of time when momentum was building," he said.

On whether he would be in contention once again in 2016, the 38-year-old attorney said: "Yes you will see me. I will be involved in the community and be active and I am going to encourage all high school and young students to participate and get involved. I am not going anywhere."

"We still haven't had all the vote counted in this election. In fact, many folks are saying 'why you are conceding when the votes are still coming in'. But I thought it's time for the healing process to begin. So, I congratulated Congressman Honda even before the vote-count was over. I will be closely following the votes and make sure that every vote has been cast, some folks have voted for the first time. So we wanted to make sure their votes are honored. And then I owe a lot of time to my friend and family."

Honda has been elected to the US House of Representatives for the eighth-term, but not before getting battered with the toughest race of his congressional career.

Khanna enjoyed significant support among Silicon Valley's high-profile political donors including Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Google's Eric Schmidt, and was able to narrow down Honda's more than 20-point lead at the beginning of the campaign to less than five-points, as the counting of votes was still going on.

Steven Spinner, who was US President Barack Obama's 2012 California campaign finance chair before he joined as Khanna's campaign chairman, told "I am beyond satisfied. In every single functional area, we out performed expectational. We left nothing on the field."

"I am obviously disappointed we came up just short. We started from 3 per cent, when you have everything against you -- the establishment, the unions, the organizations, the PAC's, when people did not know who or what is Ro Khanna. So, now we have 48 to 49 percent of the vote against an incumbent who has the entire system working for him," he said.

Spinner added, "We came one-two point short. That would have been historic if we would have done that. I could not be more proud starting with Ro and hundreds of high school students. I mean we have hundreds of students who now look at the world differently and are influenced in a positive way."

Talking about his view about the Indian American community, which has a high ratio in district 17, Spinner said: "The potential is there; we just have to register more. They are under-represented in their voting and international contributions. The more they grow the more it will be successful for the community nationwide."

Yogi Chugh, a long time supporter in this campaign who was present with Khanna said, "I think the Indian American community did come out. The immigrant journey has just begun."

Additional Inputs: PTI

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Ritu Jha