South County representative expected to cruise easily into a
n By Serdar Tumgoren Staff Writer
Gilroy – While Richard Pombo heads into the most difficult campaign season he has faced since his election to congress 14 years ago, South Valley’s other congressional representative, Democrat Mike Honda of San Jose, is expected to easily cruise to a fourth term.
Unlike his powerful Republican colleague in the 11th District in Tracy, Honda will not have to fend off challengers from within his own party for the 15th District seat.
In the fall, he will go up against Republican challenger Raymond Chukwu, a former aerospace engineer and a Silicon Valley business leader. Chukwu ran against Honda in 2004 and lost badly, with the incumbent garnering more than 70 percent of the votes.
Chukwu’s campaign Web site uses flight metaphors to champion science and technology as “the jet engine of any growing economy.” The businessman may have slightly retooled the site since the last election, but he is not likely to fare any better this time around, according to Terry Christensen, a political science professor at San Jose State University.
In addition to running as a well-funded incumbent in a heavily Democratic district, Christensen believes Honda commands an additional advantage.
“The other factor is that Mike Honda is genuinely popular,” he said. “More than some members of Congress, he’s back in the district, at events, speaking.”
Honda has attained a measure of prominence within the party, earning positions as a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, the party’s fund-raising arm, as well as chairman of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Caucus.
Honda, a former teacher and principal in San Jose, ascended to congress in 2000 after serving as a Santa Clara County supervisor.