Tag Archives: Neel Kashkari

Wouldn’t Kashkari’s world be amazing?

IMG_9936 copyGOP candidate for governor pictures very different GOP than actually exists

by Brian Leubitz

Neel Kashkari made a big speech this weekend at the California Republican Party’s convention. It was meant to do two things: shore up his base and project a vision of a moderate party that could face California’s future challenges. In many ways, these goals are diametrically opposed to each other.

It may have accomplished the base aspect, with convention goers seeming to be happy. Or at least they told the media that they were happy. Of course, it still wasn’t enough for Controller candidate Ashley Swearingen to be convinced:

Delegate Matt Kauble of Cerritos said he voted for Kashkari’s tea party rival, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), in the June primary but was impressed by Kashkari’s passion about relieving poverty and his desire to appeal to a multiracial audience.

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Ashley Swearengin, running for controller, told reporters Friday that she hadn’t made up her mind between Kashkari and Brown because she hadn’t yet had a chance to meet with the Republican. State party chairman Jim Brulte labeled her strategy “Felony stupid” in an email exchange with other party members. (LA Times)

I must say, “felony stupid” is really an underused term. I think I’ll add it to my daily conversational repertoire. At any rate, base consolidation is a question best answered by FlashReport and the similar outlets. But the question of whether he, and the CRP, can speak to the broader California electorate is a different beast. So that’s where he comes up with this:

“When they said we don’t care about the poor, we don’t care about minorities, they have no idea what they’re talking about,” Kashkari said.(LA Times)

He backed all that up with historical connections, including the GOP’s support of the Civil Rights Act. And that is partially true. The civil rights legislation of the 60s and 70s wouldn’t have occured without the support of Northern Republicans. Except that most of those Republicans (see Chaffee, Lincoln) have left the GOP for the Democratic Party. And then there is the small matter of the now widely acknowledged Southern strategy.

Wouldn’t it be great if Kashkari’s vision were actually true? I would love to live in a world where there was robust debate between two parties focused on how to best ensure that no American went to bed hungry or homeless. But that world is not this one. No matter how you try to dress up the Republican party, especially the California Republican party, it is still a right-wing organization with signed contracts of inflexibility.

Maybe in another generation or so we could see two (or, preferably, more!) parties that can speak to the California electorate giving voters real options. But the CRP that Kashkari hopes to lead is not that one.

Governor’s Debate Gets Fiesty

Governor and challenger spar in sole debate

by Brian Leubitz

Neel Kashkari had his big moment in the spotlight last night at the governor’s debate. Jerry Brown remains the prohibitive favorite with a 19.5 point lead in the RCP polling average. At this point, it would take something of a disaster on multiple fronts for Kashkari to surge past Brown.

But Brown is taking nothing for granted. His big war chest remains at the ready in case anything changes, and he is directly taking on his challenger. It began with a strong barb at Governor Brown from Kashkari:

His 40 years in government has left them out of touch with the struggles of working families. He has declared a governor — a california comeback. It is not only go we have the had the best schools in california. Today’s schools are ranked 46th out of 50 states. We used to have a vibrant job market. Today it is 44th out of 50 states. (CSPAN transcript)

And it just got more testy as it went along, closing with a nice summary by the Governor:

Four years ago when i came to Sacramento the place was in a shambles. A majority of people in California now feel we are on the right track. Five years ago only 13% felt we were on the right track. We are taking care of water and workers compensation and created a rainy day fund. {Before I arrived…}We lost 1.4 million jobs. Since i have been elected almost 1.3 million have come back and that isn’t by accident.

And today’s Field Poll confirms that topline number:

Californians are taking a more positive view of the direction of the state than then did four years ago when near record proportions (80%) felt the state was seriously off on the wrong track. Currently, slightly more voters believe the state is moving in the right direction (43%) as feel it is off on the wrong track (41%).

That is a big change. Yes, there is still work to do, but today California functions in a way it never did under Gov. Schwarzenegger. There are a lot of factors for that, but certainly Brown can claim a big chunk of that credit. He has made a difference in Sacramento, bringing competence and a steady firm hand on the tiller.

Kashkari attempted to talk about his “middle class plan” at every opportunity, but fundamentally it is just more Arnold-esque hooey. Lower taxes, and the jobs will flow. Meanwhile back in the real world, Brown can point to what he has already done with Prop 30 in bringing financial stability to the state for the past few years.

The whole debate is just under an hour, and worth a viewing (or two). You can watch it here or use the handy iframe to the right.

Brown Signs Up for Debate with Kashkari

Candidates for Governor will face off on Sep 4 in LA

by Brian Leubitz

Neel Kashkari has been lobbying for a debate with Governor Brown for a while. It’s the typical challenger stuff, claiming he was dodging, or chicken, yada, yada. But for a position as large as Governor of California, a debate is a worthwhile use of everybody’s time. Once you strip away all the BS, hopefully we can have a productive conversation. And that conversation will happen on September 4 in Los Angeles.

Kashkari had challenged Brown to 10 debates, but until now, Brown had brushed off that proposition. Most polls show Brown leading Kashkari by about 20 points, and last month the governor told reporters he “hadn’t made up (his) mind” as to whether or not he’d debate the former U.S. Treasury Department official.

But both Brown and Kashkari campaigns have now agreed to the September debate, which will be produced by KQED, the Los Angeles Times, the California Channel and Telemundo California. KQED’s senior California politics and government editor, John Myers, will moderate the one-hour forum. Journalists from the Los Angeles Times and Telemundo will ask the candidates questions as well. (KQED / Scott Detrow)

Yes, Brown is leading, and it would take some sort of monumental change for Kashkari to get close to the Governor in the vote total. But this should be an interesting chance to hear two perspectives on the state. Brown has a strong record these last four years, but maybe Kashkari can at least try to drag his party into something approaching respectability over these last two and a half months.

Neel Kashkari goes homeless for a week, and learns all the wrong lessons

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari did a stunt spending a week homeless in Fresno looking for a job, then wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal. It turns out–shock!–that getting a job isn’t as easy as asking for one, and–double shock!–relying on our patchwork safety net doesn’t exactly deliver results or human dignity.

Kashkari supposedly spent six nights sleeping outdoors getting rousted off park benches by cops, and getting his meals from a homeless shelter during his supposedly fruitless job search. His upshot? That California is over-regulated and over-taxed, that he didn’t need government programs, that all he needed was a job, and everything would have been just fine. No, really. He wrote that.

I walked for hours and hours in search of a job, giving me a lot of time to think. Five days into my search, hungry, tired and hot, I asked myself: What would solve my problems? Food stamps? Welfare? An increased minimum wage?

No. I needed a job. Period. Like others, I have often said the best social program in the world is a good job. Even though my homeless trek was only for a week, with a defined endpoint, that statement became much more real for me. A job was the one thing that could have solved my food, housing and transportation problems.

California’s record poverty is man-made: over-regulation and over-taxation that drive jobs out of state…

Any normal person would have come away from the experience saying, “Whoa, there but for the grace of god go I.” Or perhaps “what the hell is wrong with the economy that no one will even hire me for $9/hour to sweep floors or wash dishes?” But not Republicans like Kashkari. They immediately assume that taxes and regulations must be to blame for all of it.

But Kashkari’s experience would have been far more instructive if he had actually gotten a minimum wage job. It would have been far more interesting to have seen Kashkari’s reaction to trying to find an apartment, decent food and workable transportation on $9 an hour. Methinks just “getting a job” wouldn’t have really solved his problems.

Maybe that can be his next stunt. He could even learn from Democrats who have documented their own time “living the wage” that just having a job doesn’t really cut it.

Cross-posted from Digby’s Hullabaloo

George Will Thinks Kashkari is Goldwater 2.0. Goldwater 1.0 Rolls Over.

by Brian Leubitz

Neel Kashkari seems to be a bright man doing his best Don Quixote for the California GOP. He knows he isn’t going to win without some sort of major Jerry Brown catastrophe. But, the party apparatus is thrilled that he defeated right wing nativist Tim Donnelly. Apparently so much so that GOP scribe George Will took to the pages of the Washington Post to declare that he is Goldwater 2.0:

Today, in this state where one in eight Americans lives, and where Democratic presidential candidates can reap 55 electoral votes without spending a dime or a day campaigning, the Republicans’ gubernatorial candidate has an agenda and spirit similar to Goldwater’s. Neel Kashkari is not, as some careless commentary suggests, an anti-Goldwater, diluting the state party’s conservatism. He is Goldwater 2.0, defining conservatism a ­half-century on.

As Calitics has been down to a DDOS attack on the SoapBlox network, I’ve not been able to respond to this mularkey until now. And in the interim, the CalBuzz folks have taken Will’s argument apart pretty completely.

This is, we report more in sadness than in anger, bullshit.

Maybe George had too many martinis wherever he was staying in Menlo Park when he wrote about Goldwater’s nomination at the “unfortunately named Cow Palace” “fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco.” Or maybe he just had to come up with something to write off his trip out to the hustings. But he has no point, at least not one he shared with his readers.

Because: The widely known political imp Tyrion of Kashkari has not for one minute shown an interest in re-branding his party. He’s desperately trying to make a case against a governor who balanced the budget and calmed the hyperpartisan dysfunction in Sacramento (with the help of voters who passed his tax measure, gave the Legislature the power to pass a budget with a majority of votes and approved measures to boost centrism).

To be honest, at many points it seems like Kashkari is running to get famous more than anything else. Not that I begrudge a campaign on a low budget, but after the fourth time guest hosting KFI’s John and Ken Show, shouldn’t somebody say something? I’m not sure Kashkari has the it in him to become a flamethrowing media personality, but you could see him landing a gig somewhere on TV or radio after all this is over. He hasn’t really made any effort to change the hearts and minds of the still very much right-wing GOP base. He just was a slightly better option, and was able to squeak past Tim Donnelly by gathering 19.4% of the vote in the primary. There are a lot of people who voted for Donnelly, and they aren’t going anywhere.

In the end, Kashkari is basically running around trying to do whatever he can to get noticed. The latest polls have him down 52-32, and he will never have the money to compete with the governor on the air waves. So, he goes where he can find a bit of free media and tries to maximize whatever he can get. That’s about all you can do in a race like what he’s facing. It is a daunting and thankless task, but he signed up for it.

Hey, Charlie Brown knew Lucy was going to move that football, but he still went for it, right?

Pete Wilson Just Says It: Donnelly Is Bad for GOP Viability

060510ED-0744Former governor worries at message he would send to voters

by Brian Leubitz

Back in 1994, Pete Wilson leveraged nativism and Prop 187 to a big re-election win over Kathleen Brown. But, apparently there is a bridge too far, and his name is Tim Donnelly: (h/t to David Siders)

“I respect and share the concern of Tea Party and other California voters who are determined to reverse the growth in the size and cost of our state government. I strongly urge them to vote for a candidate for Governor whose campaign can compel the public to focus on reform of our failing public schools and of the tax and regulatory burdens that are driving companies and good jobs out of California.

Neel Kashkari can and will produce such a campaign. Tim Donnelly will not because he cannot.

Keeping public focus on the real and important issues facing California will require a candidate who does not have to defend Tim Donnelly’s bizarre votes and statements or his irresponsible personal behavior. Donnelly’s record – not California’s critical challenges – is what would inescapably become the focus of a Donnelly campaign.

With Tim Donnelly on the ballot, it would be a losing campaign, risking injury to our party and our state, and to other Republican candidates who deserve to win.” (FlashReport)

Ouch! Now, unfortunately for Wilson and the GOP, the conservative base seems to like them some crazy. With the ballots already out, whether Kashkari can pick up the momentum he needs to pull into second is still a very open question. Meg Whitman and her millions of dollars aren’t walking through the door anytime soon, and the future of GOP as a viable party in California is looking rather hazy.

Peak Crazy? Donnelly Accuses Kashkari of Supporting Shariah Provisions

Yes, that really happened

by Brian Leubitz

You knew at some point that Tim Donnelly would break out of his standard issue right-wing rhetoric to really reach for some crazy stuff. Something that would really grab attention and force Republicans to redouble their efforts to somehow make sure that he isn’t the GOP standard bearer in November. Sure, polls have him up big over former TARP administrator Neel Kashkari, but that doesn’t wipe away years of crazy. After all Donnelly is that guy →

But linking Neel Kashkari to Shariah law, can’t say that I saw that one coming. But, in a facebook post still available today, Donnelly links to a bizarre and factually ridiculous commentary in the Washington Times and posted the following comment:

Neel Kashkari supported the United States submitting to the Islamic, Shariah banking code in 2008 when he ran TARP.

Shariah is “the seditious religio-political-legal code authoritative Islam seeks to impose worldwide under a global theocracy.”

This revelation is spreading fast, as people like Anita Gunn refer to Mr. Kashkari’s support of Shariah an “October Surprise”.

Now, I don’t normally go around defending Republicans who are campaigning on shutting down high speed rail, but I think this is worth a mention. First of all, it is racist on its face. If Neel Kashkari was white, would he face this ridiculous accusation? His family comes from a tradition of Hinduism, which turns out is not a tradition that is generally friendly to Shariah, but I suppose that knowledge would require a bit of reading. This is about ignorance.

The Washington Times article itself is a joke. Kashkari and Treasury officials were actually supporting the idea of connecting the Shariah-approved financial system into the larger global finance system, not making everything submit to Shariah law. It turns out that wouldn’t really work well for our finance system anyway, as Islamic banking forbids the practice of receiving interest. That’s kind of the point of Wall St., so I don’t think we’ll all be converting to Islamic Banking anytime soon.

A tip of the hat to Josh Richman for pointing to the LA Times article where Donnelly doubled down on this crazy:

Donnelly stood by his remarks late Monday.

“Given the recent stories and protests about the outrage of the discriminatory nature of Sharia law, we’re horrified that Kashkari would support Sharia anything,” he said.(LA Times)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your leading GOP gubernatorial candidate, Tim Donnelly.  

Republicans Start Hustling To Avoid Donnelly Top 2 Appearance

Ramona_Tea_Party_Aug2012 082Republicans beginning to fear a nativist on a large stage

by Brian Leubitz

Gov. Brown is looking good in all the polling. He’s well over 50% against all the challengers, and the leading Republican is nativist Tim Donnelly. That raises something of an existential question for the future of the California Republican party: are they a niche right-wing party or can they compete for statewide races?

So, with that in mind, much of the establishment of the national GOP is looking to push Wall Street’s candidate, Neel Kashkari. The endorsements are flooding in:

Bush, who’s considering a 2016 run for president, joins 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and San Diego-area GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, who signed on with Kashkari on Monday.

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Kashkari’s endorsers make all the right noises about how “it’s clearly time for new leadership” (Issa) and how the former investment banker’s skills are “exactly what we need in leading California today” (Romney). But it’s probably not Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s 57 percent support in that poll that worries Republicans both inside and outside the state – it’s the 17 percent backing that San Bernardino County GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly has picked up.(SF Chronicle / John Wildermuth

That 17 percent is pretty close to Donnelly’s ceiling. He won’t get much in the way of minority votes, and he’s certainly not going to do well with independents. Brown could rack up vote totals that are rarely seen in politics. The Republicans know they aren’t going to beat Brown, but they don’t want to go down in flames. That kind of losing leaves a mark that you can’t wipe away the next day, or the next cycle.

And so you have Republicans from seemingly everywhere pouring in to endorse Kashkari. Given that he was at 2% a few days ago, and has only five weeks, it’s a big hill to climb. But, it’s a hill that establishment Republicans are desperate to conquer.

Kashkari Thinks Fracking is His Best Shot

Troubled campaign looking for some sort of boost

by Brian Leubitz

The gubernatorial candidate from Wall Street, Neel Kashkari, is struggling in the polls and fundraising is running dry. So, where to turn? How about trying to get some cash from the petroleum industry with some timely shout outs to his corporate friends in the business:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari toured a drilling technology company here Wednesday and promised to rebuild the state’s economy in part by improving the business climate for oil and gas.

In the last three years that Jerry Brown has been governor, California has increased its crude oil production 3 percent to 199 million barrels, he said. During the same three years, Texas has increased its production 77 percent to 941 million barrels, and North Dakota has hiked production 105 percent to 313 million barrels.

California’s economy is improving slowly, Kashkari said, but added that far too many Californians remain out of work because the state isn’t business-friendly.(Bakersfield Californian)

Well, that is all well and good, but the numbers that the Kashkari campaign passed off in a press release are not really relevant. Even petroleum executives would allow that each state has different petroleum reserves. Not all wells are created equal. Part of that is the regulatory environment, but fracking is a technology that aims to get at deposits with a wildly varying levels of accessibility. Monterey shale isn’t the same as the deposits in Texas or North Dakota, and there are many other considerations. Like, hey, the fact that we are in a big drought. KQED has a great report on that subject in both audio and text formats.

The potential for higher water use doesn’t sit well with some San Joaquin Valley farmers. “They’re competing for the same water that we’re using for our farms,” says Keith Gardiner. “That’s taken away from the farm fields.”

“It is an added pressure,” says Greg Wegis of Wegis and Young, a farming operation near Bakersfield. “From what I’ve seen, in some of the fracking wells, they’re using 3-to-4 acre-feet per well. That’s not helping the situation.”(KQED)

But Kashkari has very little to work with. Brown has a huge warchest, and Donnelly is still polling above him. Kashkari needs more cash and attention. He can claim to be addressing with an appearance on Squawk Box, but appearing on CNBC won’t make the kind of big shake up that he needs to this race. So, why not try pandering to petroleum interests. It won’t help him win the governor’s office, but maybe he can squeeze into the November top-2.

PPIC Poll shows Brown with huge lead, Donnelly in distant second

Endeavour Grand  Opening Ceremony (201210300002HQ)Poll shows right-wing anti-immigrant Tim Donnelly could be GOP standard bearer in November

by Brian Leubitz

WHo really wants to be the one to get steamrolled by Gov. Brown and his huge warchest come June/November? Well, there are a few folks vying for the privilege, but few show any sign of making any inroads. Barring a bizarre calamity, Brown seems a prohibitive favorite over the field. And that instinct is borne out in PPIC’s poll:

When primary likely voters are asked how they would vote in the governor’s race, 47 percent choose Brown and 10 percent choose Republican Tim Donnelly. Fewer support Republicans Andrew Blount (2%) or Neel Kashkari (2%)-the other candidates included in the survey-while 3 percent name someone else and 36 percent are undecided. (PPIC)

Now, Donnelly, who is a well known right wing extremist better known as a Minuteman vigilante than as a serious legislator. Not exactly the type of candidate a 21st century party is really looking for in a state with a minority majority. But while some party leaders are kind of rooting for Neel Kashkari, and his much more compelling, and modern, story, the grassroots of the party seems to prefer Donnelly’s anti-immigrant right-wing platform.

Had Kashkari been able to keep up his initial strong fundraising, you would have to like his odds to pull out the number two spot. But with that fundraising rapidly slowing, Donnelly may be able to carry a right-wing base vote to the second line of the November ballot.  The other candidate, Andrew Blount, Mayor of Laguna Hills, says he is raising no money at all. Unless he plans to self-finance, Donnelly’s slightly higher name ID would likely be enough to push him over the edge. Here’s the current cash situation:

Donnelly reported Monday that he has less than $11,000 in cash on hand, with unpaid bills of $149,068. Kashkari, meanwhile, has banked more than $900,000, while Brown has nearly $20 million on hand.(SacBee)

Perhaps this will improve when one of them squeaks onto the November ballot. However, the numbers right now are all looking strong for Gov. Brown. His current approval rating is at 49% approval, down a bit from his all time high in January of 58%, but more than solid given the other factors in the race.