SD Rostra

Is Kashkari’s Approach a Winner for Cal GOP? UPDATE


Neel Kashkari is officially running:


I was hoping that my 100th post on San Diego Rostra would be more auspicious, but as the old saying goes “I don’t make the news. . .”
I have a lot of respect for Steven Greenhut, who covers California politics very well, and is founder of CalWatchdog.  Imagine my surprise when I saw an article in which he touted Neel Kashkari (pictured) as the best Republican candidate for Governor, running against Jerry Brown in 2014.

Enter 40-year-old Neel Kashkari, an Orange County financial executive of Indian descent who led the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) during the Bush administration. He has been canvassing the state, meeting with Republican leaders in Sacramento and building the foundation of a campaign. He has garnered a little insider-GOP buzz, although he has yet to announce his candidacy.

It’s odd that the Republicans’ most promising potential contender is a political novice who once voted for Barack Obama and is best known for heading a federal bank bailout program that generates much hostility among GOP voters. It’s either a sign of the party’s desperation or proof of its new-found openness to new messaging.

Something has to change for the Republican’s fortunes to change in California, but running a candidate likely to antagonize your base doesn’t seem the way to go. What does Kashkari have to say that does resonate with the base?  From the Mercury-News:

He  [Kashkari] claims that Brown hasn’t adequately tackled California’s biggest problems: the nation’s highest poverty rate, the fifth-highest unemployment rate, and schools that rank toward the bottom.

“The narrative that ‘California is back’ is outrageous,” he said. “The people on the street definitely know better.”
He likened Brown to a teenager who shovels the state’s mess under the bed to make the room look clean.

Making the connection between Democrat/leftist policies and greater unemployment is very important.  Those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder make the mistake of voting Democrat, often because they think it will help them.  Of course, when jobs, especially entry-level jobs, dry up, those at the bottom are hurt worst.  Democrats believe that promised generous government benefits promised will turn these voters into reliably Democratic voters. Pointing out the flawed logic is important to breaking the left’s grip on this state’s politics. From the same article:

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: Kashkari calls it “the biggest example we have of misplaced priorities in our state.” He calls Brown’s plan to divert carbon emission cap-and-trade revenue to the project a “gimmick,” nothing more than a Band-Aid on an imaginary financial plan.

Some of the articles I have read on Kashkari emphasize the fact that no Republican is likely to unseat Brown for Governor, and go on to say that what matters is the primary message from the top of the GOP ticket.  Emphasizing economic issues and being a social moderate make Kashkari attractive to Greenhut:

On the surface, Kashkari seems right out of the moderate camp reminiscent of failed multimillionaire candidate Meg Whitman. He is advised by former aides to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mitt Romney. A former Goldman Sachs vice president in San Francisco, he favors abortion rights and gay marriage.

But, after a 45-minute interview with him on Monday, I thought he had something lacking in many California GOP moderate candidates: passion. Most interestingly, Kashkari is packaging Republican issues in a way that’s designed to appeal to people who wouldn’t normally vote for Republicans.

I am not ready to endorse Kashkari, especially given his involvement in TARP and his vote for Obama, but his approach to California politics is worth considering.

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