Neel Kashkari to Enter Governor’s Race

Former Treasury official looks to take on Brown

by Brian Leubitz

Who, you may ask. Well, indeed Neel Kashkari intends to be the next governor of the great state of California. Kashkari, the former head of the TARP program, announced today that he will take on Brown (presumably) in the June election (and November if he gets that far.)

Former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari announced Tuesday that he is running for governor of California, staking his campaign on his ability to create jobs and improve public schools.

“Here today, on this stage, I am announcing that I’m running for governor of California,” Kashkari told a few hundred people at a luncheon at Cal State Sacramento. “That’s my platform, jobs and education. That’s it. That’s why I’m running for governor of California.”(LA Times)

Fortunately for Kashkari, the caption writers of the LA Times are a bit out of date when they write under a photo that he is attempting to win the GOP nomination. Because, let’s be realistic here, he would have a much tougher route if that was his path. Instead, given that we now work in a Top-2 system, Kashkari will attempt to woo enough Republicans, independents and a smattering of Democrats in the June election to be the second highest vote getter and move on to November.

It is probably a better path than the one that Meg Whitman had to trod in 2010. She had to cater to the far right to get her party’s nomination, say some stuff about immigration she probably didn’t believe and all that. Kashkari can hope that the nativist vote won’t overwhelm the “moderate” coalition that he aims to build. Of course, in Tim Donnelly, the nativists have just the candidate to rally around.  Kashkari will have to hope that he can build a big war chest from the corporate Republicans to build an operation that can deal with the right wing ground game. It is doable, but a strong showing from Brown in gathering independent support could mean that Donnelly is the man that gets through June.

And even if he can get through June, what then? Brown is still sitting at an impressive 58% approval rating in the last Field poll. That includes 58% approval among independents, a figure that could go higher if the economy continues to recover. Brown has a big chunk of cash sitting in the bank, and an impressive operation in a Democratic state. In other words, unless Brown opts out in a stunning turn of events, he is a strong favorite to retain the job. Kashkari will do well to replicate the results of Whitman in 2010. (Spoiler: Whitman lost by 13 points after spending $140 million)

UPDATE: A tip of the hat to the Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci for checking out his voting records. Turns out that he’s not doing so well on that front:

Former Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari, a moderate Republican who is expected to run for governor, has failed to vote in nearly half the elections in which he was eligible since 1998 – including the 2012 presidential primary and the 2005 special election called to decide the reform agenda of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – public records show.

Oh, that’s ok, no big deal. I mean, you are only trying to get millions of people to show up for you, what’s a measly voting record anyway? Voting isn’t nearly as powerful as the big checks, right?

At any rate, Kashkari has a little baggage to open up the race. Never an auspicious way to start.

3 thoughts on “Neel Kashkari to Enter Governor’s Race”

  1. Prop 14 (2010) requires the top two to proceed to November even if one of them receives a majority in June. To take an extreme example, Lois Wolk (D) received 96.9% in the June 2012 primary for the 3rd State Senate district. Frank Miranda (R), a write-in, received 2%. Both proceeded to the November runoff, which Wolk won.

    Prop 14 does not apply to county offices. For sheriff, supervisor, etc., a majority in the June primary is final.  

  2. All he has to do is to get people to nickname Tim Donnelly “Zod.”  Then his slogan for the June election can be “Neel Before Zod.”

    All of which is to say: good to see Calitics in my FB feed!

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