Does Neel Kashkari have a shot to upset Gov. Brown?

Written by

Neel Kashkari isn’t taking much time to savor his victory. The moderate Republican beat Tea Party Assemblyman Tim Donnelly in this week’s gubernatorial primary. Now Kashkari is setting his sights on the general election this fall. But he starts out as a huge underdog in his bid to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown.

Yesterday Kashkari called for unity in the Republican Party. And he tried to answer critics who say his polices differ little from the sitting governor. The former U.S. Treasury official and political newcomer  drew a bright line between his objectives and Brown’s policies, starting with job creation and the state’s proposed bullet train.

BROWN“(Brown’s) California comeback is an economy ranked 47th in jobs. So, I think when people focus in on the real differences between us, the differences are huge,” Kashkari said. “He wants to protect the status quo. I want to transform the state. He wants to build the crazy train; I’ve told everyone I’m going to cancel the crazy train.”

Kashkari received 19 percent of the vote Tuesday, four points more than Donnelly, who had been shunned by many mainstream Republicans over his controversial statements on guns, race and immigration. But Kashkari’s total paled in comparison to the 54 percent of the vote that Gov. Brown received.

Meanwhile Kashkari’s campaign is nearly broke after spending about $4 million in the primary. Brown, by contrast, has $21 million in the bank. With few observers giving him a chance, including some from his own party, Kashkari could find it difficult to make up the fundraising gap.