Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., sent a signal to his potential opponents Thursday that they would start a campaign at a major disadvantage if they challenged him.
An internal poll released by Honda showed the seven-term Democrat leading two opponents in a hypothetical top-two primary matchup by a wide margin.
The 17th District is a safe Democratic seat in the San Jose area. But under the state's new top two election format, two members of the same party can face off in the general. Khanna, a Fremont-based attorney with a $1 million campaign war chest, poses the greatest threat to Honda.
The rumor earlier this year that Khanna may look to challenge Honda led the incumbent to round up several high-profile endorsements, including President Barack Obama and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in January — a year and a half before the primary.
The poll was conducted just a few weeks later. Lake Research Partners surveyed 503 likely top-two primary voters Feb. 17-20. The poll's margin of error was 4.4 points.
"Mike Honda is well-known and well-liked by the people he represents," pollster David Mermin said in a statement. "His potential challengers are unknown and will face a long road to persuade voters to choose them over the Congressman."