What to Know in Washington: Ro Khanna Plays Donor Matchmaker

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The Silicon Valley district of Rep. Ro Khanna offers something of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to affluent campaign donors. The California Democrat says, this cycle, he’s working to share the wealth.

Khanna, who passed on a run for his state’s open Senate seat next year but is viewed as still harboring political ambitions, said he plans to serve as a matchmaker between his Bay area donor base and his pick of liberal politicians around the country. His 17th congressional district, south of San Francisco, is a hub for the high tech sector including Intel, Apple, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, and home to many others who work in the industry.

He’ll put a particular focus on boosting candidates of color, women running for office, and those in political battlegrounds. Khanna, who supports an overhaul of campaign finance laws and public financing of elections, said he hopes that helping connect candidates from less affluent enclaves to wealthy individuals might reduce the influence of corporate interests and political action committees among Democrats.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) is seeking to match high tech donors to liberal candidates

Khanna gets something out of the arrangement too. In addition to the obvious goal of helping Democrats regain control of the House, assisting other candidates fundraise may win future allies and potentially give him sway over the direction of the party and the candidates deemed viable up and down the ballot.

Silicon Valley donors want to know where they can fund competitive candidates, ideally in swing races. Many of them get a lot of solicitations and seek Khanna’s help in identifying promising candidates. Khanna’s effort of connecting lawmakers with big donors is something of a twist on where the party has sought to fund its campaigns, largely with a big influx of small contributions. It mirrors Khanna’s own fundraising, which is heavily skewed toward larger donations. Kate Ackley has the full story.

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To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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