(BuzzFeed Politics) -- Late last month, a former Republican congressman sent an unusual email to supporters: Help me bring the Tea Party Express to California’s Silicon Valley — to support a Democrat.
To finance the effort, former Rep. Ernie Konnyu wrote, supporters would need to raise $50,000 to help out Democrat Ro Khanna, who is now challenging Democratic Rep. Mike Honda.
The Tea Party Express — a California-based group that raises money for grassroots conservative candidates — is interested, even if none of Konnyu’s supporters appear to be so far. Should the plan come to fruition, it would be the first time a major tea party organization played in a race between Democrats — and on behalf of a Democrat who recently worked in the Obama administration.
Khanna, a former presidential appointee at the Department of Commerce, is running against longtime Democratic Rep. Mike Honda in one of California’s “jungle primary” system. The scheme strips out partisan primaries, forcing the top two vote-getters from a field of primary candidates to face off in the general election, even if they’re both from the same party.
Honda won the most votes in the jungle primary in June, and has establishment and progressive backing, but Khanna has raised a lot of money and has tapped the resources of top Obama 2012 field campaign architect Jeremy Bird and his 270 Strategies consulting firm to develop his field campaign.