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Tuesday June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 17

Photo of Ro Khanna

Ro Khanna

United States Congressman
72,676 votes (62%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Close the Wage Gap. Millions of hardworking Americans have experienced decades of wage stagnation. In my first term, I introduced the GAIN act, which would double the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families.
  • Expand Access to Education. I passed legislation that would expand access to apprenticeship & tech training programs for veterans. I also co-sponsored the College for All Act, to make public college affordable.
  • Ban PAC & Lobbyist Money. Special interest campaign contributions have corrupted our democratic process. I have pledged to never take a dime from special interest groups. I co-founded the No-PAC caucus to encourage my colleagues to join me.



Member, United States House of Repersentatives — Elected position (2016–current)
Lecturer in Economics, Stanford University (2012–2016)
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Smart Utility Systems (2015–2016)
Of Counsel, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati (2011–2014)
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, United States Department of Commerce — Appointed position (2009–2011)


Yale Law School Juris Doctor (J.D.), Intellectual Property Law (2001)
University of Chicago Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Economics (1998)

Community Activities

Founder, Agents of Change, a student run volunteer group (2017–current)
Mentor, We the People at Irvington High School (2016–2016)



Congressman Ro Khanna, 41, is a Representative of California’s 17th District in Congress’ 115th session. In the 2016 general election, he was elected to Congress. He is one of only six members of Congress who does not accept PAC contributions, continuing his efforts to keep politics and special interest money separate. He serves as a member of the Committee on the Budget and the Committee on Armed Services in Congress. In Congress, Ro serves as a strong voice for a progressive vision that promotes good jobs and wages for the 17th district and the United States of America. 

Like so many families in our area, Ro's parents immigrated to the United States—coming from India to seek opportunity and a better life for their children. Ro was born in Philadelphia in 1976, and learned the value of education and hard work from his parents. Ro’s father studied engineering at the University of Michigan; his mother was a substitute teacher. Ro benefited from a quality public school education and took out student loans to attend great universities, which he is still paying off today. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago, and received a law degree from Yale University.

Ro’s commitment to public service was inspired early on by his grandfather, who told him stories about participating in Gandhi’s independence movement in India and spending several years in jail for promoting human rights. Somewhat serendipitously, Ro became involved in politics while attending the University of Chicago, where he worked on the campaign of a little-known candidate for state Senate named Barack Obama. Later, Ro worked on Obama’s presidential campaign.

 In 2009, President Obama appointed Ro to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Ro broke new ground when he organized clean technology trade missions and expanded the Green Embassy program, which allows American clean technology firms to showcase their products in our embassies overseas. Ro also served on the White House Business Council, where he worked with both business and labor for policies that promote to bring back American manufacturing jobs. Under Ro's leadership, American exports grew dramatically. 

In 2009 and 2010, Ro took the lead on defending the rights of workers who were being laid off by New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) as the plant closed its doors in Fremont. He played a critical role in securing a $330,000 grant from the federal government for Fremont to find new uses for the abandoned auto plant, in addition to funds for job training programs to help the skilled workers who found themselves out of work and with nowhere to turn. Ro’s strong commitment to the United Auto Workers and the working families in the region is something that he will bring to Congress as he advocates for a collaborative working relationship between organized labor and business leaders.

After leaving the Commerce Department, Ro authored a book on the state of American manufacturing and how to keep it competitive in the global economy. Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America's Future has won widespread praise for its strategies to keep the best companies, jobs, and opportunities in America.

Following his mother’s example, Ro is a Lecturer in the Department of Economics at Stanford University and an Adjunct Professor at Santa Clara Law School.Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the California Workforce Development Board for the State of California, where he served as chair for the Advanced Manufacturing Committee.  Ro also served on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and has tutored local Irvington High School students in his spare time. His pro bono legal activity includes work with the Mississippi Center for Justice on several contractor fraud cases on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims.

Ro has been a strong advocate for local issues in our community. He has worked with Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves to reduce odor from the Newby Landfill and to hold Republic accountable. He also worked with Santa Clara City Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor to make sure the San Francisco 49ers did not take over the Youth Soccer Park in Santa Clara. Ro has worked with environmentalists to stand up to Lehigh Cement Plant and insist that the plant be held to modern day envionmental standards.

A long time resident of Fremont, Ro was drawn to Silicon Valley after finishing his education. He and his wife, Ritu Khanna, still currently reside in Fremont. Ritu has been a marketing executive and has a master's degree in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and a B.S. from Georgetown University.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $2,708,163

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Employees of Google
Employees of Accel Partners
Employees of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Employees of
Employees of Oracle

More information about contributions

By State:

California 83.19%
New York 3.52%
Illinois 1.82%
Maryland 1.74%
Other 9.73%

By Size:

Large contributions (94.18%)
Small contributions (5.82%)

By Type:

From organizations (0.90%)
From individuals (99.10%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Congressman Khanna's words that will appear on his candidate statement reflect his political philosophy well. See below for his personal summary on his last two years and what he's committed to doing if he has the honor of being re-elected:

It has been my honor to represent the people of California’s 17th district in the United States Congress. I have worked across the aisle to build an economy that works for all Americans. I have done so while remaining an active voice on local issues affecting our community.

I passed my first law, the VALOR act, which makes it easier for veterans to access apprenticeship programs. To make sure all our children have the skills they need to compete in a global economy, I have also co-sponsored legislation to make public universities and community colleges debt free.

As Vice Chair of the Progressive Caucus, I have fought for equal pay for women, Medicare for All, a reduction of our foreign military entanglements, and comprehensive immigration reform. I have also introduced legislation to double the EITC for working families, helping reduce the wage gap in our country.

Locally, I have hosted monthly town halls in the district. To combat air noise from local airports, I established a roundtable with local leaders and FAA officials committed to finding a solution. To reduce traffic congestion, I have advocated for federal funding for the expansion of BART into San Jose and Santa Clara. Finally, to reduce the rising levels of anxiety among our students, I partnered with local school districts to raise awareness for youth mental health.

I have never taken campaign contributions from PACs, lobbyists or corporations  To learn more, please visit

Position Papers

Mental Health for Adolescents


This article was published in the San Francisco Chroncile on January 2nd, 2017. I collaborated with Vicki Abeles, the producer/director of the film “Race to Nowhere” and author of “Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheuled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation” (Simon & Schuster, 2015), and Tarun Galagali, an alumnus of Monta Vista High School in Cupertino

I will take my oath of office today and have the honor of representing Silicon Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives. My political campaign succeeded because of the help of hundreds of students. Their ambition and drive will allow them to flourish, but I am concerned about their well-being.

These students were volunteering because of a genuine passion for giving back to the community. But a few also told me that the campaign work was a release, or as one student put it “a respite from our reality.” And while these young adults may not have used terms like anxiety and depression, I gradually got the sense that their “reality” was sometimes darker than their smiles would suggest.

In the most recent California Healthy Kids Survey, 1 in 3 high school juniors reported feeling chronically sad. An astonishing 1 in 5 freshmen and juniors reported contemplating suicide. The causes of student distress vary, but 1 in 3 teens told the American Psychological Association that stress was a primary driver, and the single biggest cause teens named was school.

A large study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente confirms that children who experience more serious and lasting stress in their youth are more likely to suffer not only anxiety and depression, but also lung, liver and heart disease as adults. While that research examined severe traumas such as abuse or neglect, psychologists and pediatricians increasingly suspect that chronic, lower-intensity stress, like that caused by constant performance pressure, could cause similar biological strain.

It has become clear that we need to do something. Vicki Abeles and Tarun Galagali have helped me put together a five-point plan:

Collect data annually on student wellness: We need to know precisely what we’re dealing with at each school. Stuart Slavin, a St. Louis University pediatrics professor, pioneered such a survey at Fremont’s Irvington High School, asking students research-backed questions on sleep, stress, anxiety and depression. The results helped guide Irvington administrators in crafting wellness programs. Data makes inaction a costly political decision for officials responsible to constituents.

Create wellness centers: Every school should have a wellness center on site, providing counseling and other services that will help equip students with tools to cultivate good mental health, such as mindfulness. Southern California’s Burbank High School is a guiding example.

Shift school start times to 8:30 a.m.: Sleep matters, especially for children and teens. Yet more than two-thirds of our country’s students get fewer hours than they need. Sleep deprivation is linked with a weaker immune system and higher levels of depression and suicide (not to mention poorer academic performance). Pushing school start times from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, might be logistically challenging but sensible.

Remake expectations about homework: Homework seems like a given — a central and unquestioned part of a rigorous education. But in truth it is a reflex, borne out of tradition rather than research. Studies suggest that, if homework helps at all, it does so only when assigned in moderation. Today’s runaway homework demands are doing more harm than good. Schools should cap the amount of time students can be required to work after the last bell, granting them the chance for rest and exercise, and returning to families the evening hours that are rightfully theirs.

Defuse the college admissions arms race: There’s little that drives students to experience more stress than the ever-escalating contest to cram their college applications full of more advanced classes and activities than the next applicant. Yet it’s a contest that has little to do with real individual potential or learning. Schools at all levels have a responsibility to intervene. We call on public colleges and universities to cap the number of Advanced Placement classes and activities they will consider on applications.

With the same fervor that we demand our candidates value Medicare and Social Security, we need to ask our public officials to tackle the mental health epidemic afflicting our nation’s children. It is an urgent task.

Expanding Technology Jobs Across America


This was published on March 6th, 2018 in the San Jose Merucry. I wrote it in collaboration with Jed York, the CEO of the 49ers. 

Stories that describe the ways in which America’s heartland is divided from its coasts are a dime a dozen. Growing up in manufacturing towns (Jed from Youngstown, Ohio and Ro from Bucks County, Pennsylvania) and living in Silicon Valley, we’ve seen some of those differences. But having met a new generation of businesses and entrepreneurs, we’re witnessing a bridge between the two: the evolution of additive manufacturing. Combining the DNA of a manufacturing town with a digital economy, this new industry shows policymakers and business leaders how we might start to bring our country together.

On Sept. 19, 1977, Youngstown, Ohio experienced a foundational shift in its economy. Before the fateful “Black Monday,” as many still call it, steel manufacturing paid living wages for a generation of adults, carrying them into the middle class. But on that day, one of the biggest steel producers, Youngstown Sheet & Tube, shut down and laid off thousands of employees. A town that was once 170,000 would see 40,000 jobs gone in the same decade. In the last 30 years, median household income has remained flat at around $24,000, and the town has struggled to repopulate.

In 1995, with the help of seed funding provided by the federal government, the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) was established. Its mission was to focus on companies innovating in the additive manufacturing space. As opposed to traditional manufacturing, additive manufacturing relies on layer-over-layer design and leverages information technology. This new kind of manufacturing reduces costs for companies like GE that build plane parts and helps biomedical manufacturers produce more precise biomedical devices. These kinds of companies tend to heavily populate the larger Mahoning Valley Region, in which Youngstown is located.

So it is no surprise that today America Makes — the leading 3D printing institute in the nation and perhaps world — is based in Youngstown. Portfolio companies coming from YBI and America Makes have generated nearly $39 million revenue and employed 1,842 people. In 2015, YBI was recognized as the No. 1 high-impact incubation program in North America.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 500,000 unfilled tech jobs in advanced manufacturing. A BCG report suggests that there will be an additional 900,000 in this sector due to the continual transformation of our economy. Many won’t require a traditional degree. Rather, the new jobs will require “adaptive skills,” including ones that require access to online technical information, ranging from controlling system queries to resolving issues in an automated diagnosis. “Adaptive skills?”  What better term is there for a resilient Youngstown population with a burgeoning appetite for diversification.

At a recent roundtable of venture capitalists and companies in Youngstown hosted by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, his friend shared an interesting story. A father and his daughter were talking about the future of Youngstown. The father remarked, with an understandable cynicism, that decades of flat wages and job loss would not change overnight because of a handful of new companies. The daughter was more optimistic, saying that during her lifetime the city was steadily getting better, that the number of restaurants had jumped from a few to 17. There’s an undeniable optimism in young folks, whether in Youngstown or San Jose, who are hungry for new opportunities. The scars of deindustrialization are not fresh in their minds. These kids are hopeful about their economic future.

Let’s take steps to justify their optimism. We believe the government needs to aggressively expand our funding for public/private partnerships, and we need to double down on training a new workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. Companies and capital should reach young people in cities and small towns across America. They are ready for us.

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