Fight between two Democrats is costliest California House race so far

Ro Khanna versus Michael Honda is costliest House race in California to date

 A fight between two Bay Area Democrats is the costliest contest so far of the races for a congressional district seat from California, reports filed this week show.

Former Obama administration official Ro Khanna has spent more than $3 million of the $4 million he has raised in his quest to defeat Rep. Michael M. Honda of San Jose, according to a document Khanna provided to the Federal Election Commission.

Honda said in his report that he has raised $2.4 million and has spent nearly $1.5 million of that to try to hold on to his seat in the Nov. 4 election.

The battle between Honda and Khanna is one of two same-party fights for a House seat this fall.  In the other, businessman/military officer Art Moore is taking on Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove).

Moore is the underdog, at least financially -- he reported raising $78,314 by the end of the reporting period June 30, while McClintock had collected more than $1 milllion by then and had $428,168 left to spend.

The same-party fights were made possible by the state's relatively new "top two" elections system. All the candidates for an office appear on a ballot given to all voters and the first-and second-place finishers in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, move on to the general election.

There also were fat campaign chests showing up in the reports for some of the most competitive races between candidates from each of the two major parties. 

Up to about a dozen races for House seats in California are expected draw national attention as  each of the parties targets seats they feel are ripe for changing hands.

Among the most competitive is one in San Diego, where freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters is facing a challenge from Republican Carl DeMaio, a former city councilman.   Peters reported raising almost $2.5 million for the race and had $1.9 million in cash on hand.  DeMaio had collected about $2 million and had more than $1.4 million on hand.

In the Sacramento suburbs, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) will face former Republican congressman Doug Ose.  Bera's contributions totaled almost $2.77 million and he reported more than $1.9 million left to spend, while Ose collected $1.2 million and had $203,841 on hand.

Republicans also believe they have a good chance of unseating two other first-term Democrats -- Rep. Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert and Rep. Julia Brownley of Westlake Village. Ruiz has raised $2.5 million, while his challenger, Assemblyman Brian Nestande, also of Palm Desert, collected $853,385.

Brownley, too, has so far outraised her GOP competitor, Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo, by $2 million to $664,312.

In the Central Valley,  Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) collected nearly $1.8 million for his race with Democrat Michael Eggman, a farmer and small businessman who raised nearly $841,000.

The gaps  between incumbents and challengers could close, however, if national party leaders and independent spending campaigns decide to invest heavily in these races.

Fundraising was less lopsided in another Central Valley district, where Democrats are hoping to defeat freshman Rep. David Valadao of Hanford with farm policy advisor Amanda Renteria.  Valadao raised $1.8 million to Renteria's $1 million.

Follow @jeanmerl for the latest in Southern California politics news.

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