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State, national columnists

Challenger calls governor lazy, vulnerable

By From page A11 | March 19, 2014

Jerry Brown has been called a lot of things in his 45-year political career, from “Governor Moonbeam” to “the old man,” but no one ever accused him of being a do-nothing dud of a politician. Until now.

Changing the state’s school-funding formula, balancing the budget after years of deficit, proposing a massive water transportation plan and spearheading a successful campaign for a tax increase were not enough to make Brown a busy man, says his most likely fall re-election rival.

“Brown is a caretaker governor,” charges Neel Kashkari, leading Republican in some recent polls. “I’m telling you, he’s a status quo guy. I call him lazy and unwilling to make the major changes we need to bring California back from the Great Recession. All he does is nibble around the edges of problems.”

This criticism of Brown will be a major theme of Kashkari’s campaign against the 75-year-old Democrat.

Kashkari, a former executive of the Goldman Sachs banking house, led the federal Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program for several months under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He takes much credit for rescuing the U.S. economy from disaster and is the early favorite over fellow Republicans Tim Donnelly and Andrew Blount in the June primary election.

For sure, Kashkari is a different sort of Republican candidate, perhaps one California voters will be ready to accept. The Ohio-born son of Indian immigrant parents, he didn’t get here until 1998, then left for more than three years’ work in Washington, D.C. So he’s only lived here about 13 years, less than any serious candidate for governor in modern memory.

“If time in California were the criterion leading to a great governor, Brown would be great,” the intense, shaven-headed Kashkari said, seated in a San Fernando Valley coffee shop.

Kashkari is unlike other recent top Republican nominees: He’s not a billionaire, his net worth estimated at “only” about $5 million; he can’t write big checks to his campaign every time the bank account gets thin, a la Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Arnold Schwarzenegger and William Simon.

“I won’t contribute anything,” he says. That would contrast enormously with Brown’s 2010 opponent, Silicon Valley executive Whitman, who spent more than $140 million of her own money without coming close.

“Brown is vulnerable,” Kashkari declares. “He wants to spend $67 billion on his crazytrain (Kashkari code for high-speed rail) and one poll I saw had only about 33 percent of voters wanting to re-elect him.”

The same survey, however, found 59 percent approve Brown’s job performance, an odd polling combination.

Kashkari says he’d pursue two main goals if elected: creating jobs and reviving California education. Asked how, he makes a major commitment to exploiting the state’s huge shale oil and gas reserves, without imposing a new drilling tax. He would also make a big push for less regulation of business, something Brown has tried, but not been able to push through the Legislature.

How would Kashkari operate as a Republican dealing with a large Democratic legislative majorities? He doesn’t explain in detail. But he insists that “I would bring a lot of companies back to California, not have them continue moving out of state,” also a theme of the previous three GOP candidates for governor. But he doesn’t detail how he’d help business cope with high housing costs that prevent many companies from recruiting out-of-state workers here.

He also insists he’d pursue development of new reservoirs to store water in wet years and prepare for dry ones, but does not say where he’d put them.

“We need a large water bond on the fall ballot,” he says. “I blame Brown for lack of preparation for the drought.”

But in more than an hour discussing what he would do, there were no details on how he’d revive education, where California’s per-student spending is among the lowest in America.

Kashkari brings obvious energy to the campaign trail. But his big handicap also is obvious – voters don’t know him. Not one person in that coffee shop appeared to recognize him, despite his distinctive appearance.

Can Kashkari win in a state where Republicans are badly outnumbered and where he’s never run for any office, where he’s voted in barely half the elections during his time here? He says yes.

Brown doesn’t seem worried.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at [email protected]

Thomas Elias


Discussion | 13 comments

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  • The MisterMarch 19, 2014 - 7:43 am

    FYI, Tim Donnelly is NOT a Washington DC-connected insider nor is he a Wall Street-connected mover and shaker. Tim Donnelly IS an honest man that has been and will continue to represent the interests of the people... not the special interests of high-level politicians and large financial concerns. Vote Tim Donnelly for leadership of a government where YOU are the special interest.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 19, 2014 - 7:58 am

    The Mister, good luck with that. Kashkari, Donnelly and others should stay home and stop what is tantamount to stealing. Brown is a slam dunk, period.

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  • The MisterMarch 19, 2014 - 8:35 am

    You're right, Seedy. The Democrat machine OWNS this state... and every good thing and bad thing in it, politically speaking. The problem for the people is that there are overwhelming more bad things than good. The US House of Representatives went 40 years straight under Democrat control... and then the people had enough. Under normal circumstances in California, Tim Donnelly doesn't have a chance... but if the people have had enough, then Tim Donnelly is ready to lead the change.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 19, 2014 - 9:10 am

    The Mister, and he has a long wait. Gavin Newsom will follow Brown as the next Governor of California! :)

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  • FDCMarch 19, 2014 - 12:04 pm

    Yes, Seedy. And when good ol' Gavin gets to higher places, think of how many more subordinate's wives he can romance.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 19, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    FDC, you are jealous, that's all.

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  • FDCMarch 19, 2014 - 12:06 pm

    Who cares what Lefty Elias says about Republicans? Who cares about the (non)Republican Cash and Carry candidate?

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  • Puddin TaneMarch 19, 2014 - 12:41 pm

    FDC (or is it Crunchy? Who cares?), you are as delusional as Donnelly if you think he's got a snowball's chance at winning this race. Brown can easily win with a two word slogan: "Budget Surplus."

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  • Rich GiddensMarch 19, 2014 - 2:03 pm

    How could anyone believe that California has a ''budget surplus''? Does Moody's and the other credit / bond raters agree with that lying claim?

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  • Puddin TaneMarch 20, 2014 - 1:37 pm

    Well Richie, Bank of Anerica, Bloomberg Business Week, the Economist, and pretty much every financially literate person on the planet (including the ones at Moody's) seem to agree that California ran a budget surplus by taking in more money than it spent in the previous fiscal year. That's how accounting works. If you don't like it, I'm sure you can move to the state of South Carolina that you love so much (only good thing it has produced is Colbert). Lord knows the rest of us would love to be spared your bile-filled rants. But I'm curious as to why you're so eager to take Moody's or the other rating agencies seriously, since the big three (Moody's, S&P, and Fitch) gave AAA ratings to CDOs that were anything but in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. Or did you manage to forget that due to your cognitive dissonance?

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  • Puddin TaneMarch 19, 2014 - 12:43 pm

    No need to respond to the proposed slogan, as there really isn't a way to spin the budget surplus against Brown. Not that this will prevent you from trying.

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  • GoogleMarch 19, 2014 - 10:25 am

    Google.....rediff com Jan 22, 2014 Why the '$700 billion man' thinks he's a candidate with a difference ... Kashkari has already met with the likes of former President George W Bush, in whose administration he served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, his former boss and mentor Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and other Republican heavyweights, who have all promised to back him to the hilt..........An Indian-American heavyweight in Silicon Valley, who recently brought together some leading Indian-American Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to listen to Kashkari and pledge their support, told Rediff.com that although defeating Brown would certainly be an uphill -- if nigh impossible -- task, "Even if he loses, he will get major name ID and recognition, and if the Republicans take the White House in 2016, you bet he will be up for a senior administration post, maybe even a cabinet job, perhaps treasury secretary. It could also be a launching pad for a future, more viable run in 2018 for the governorship, and who knows, even a run for the US Senate." Poster's Note....Continuing a tradition that our (really the International Banker's) Treasury Secretaries come from the ranks of Goldman Sachs......NO NO NO....And, as any serious candidate would do, he has deployed some of the leading hired guns in the political business from both former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign and also operatives from former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's team......NO NO NO....OK Was this guy a Brilliant Genius Programmed by NASA....ie Another very successfully programmed MK-ULTRA ( maybe like Mr. Obama ) NO NO NO.... People of all classes, rich and poor, ethnicities, party lines DO NOT BE FOOLED....WAKE UP... He is supported by the co-conspirators of 9/11 He worked in Democrat and Republican Administrations He is one of them.

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  • OK So Kashkari is a Graduate of WhartonMarch 19, 2014 - 10:36 am

    Google in General....wharton school mk ultra .... see Tavistock: The Best Kept Secret in America - Educate-Yourself org.....Such is the power of Tavistock that our entire space program was scrapped for nine years so that the Soviets could catch up. The hiatus was demanded in an article written by Dr. Anatol Rapport, and was promptly granted by the government, to the complete mystification of everyone connected with NASA. Another prominent Tavistock operation is the Wharton School of Finance, at the University of Pennsylvania. A single common denominator identifies the common Tavistock strategy---the use of drugs. The infamous MK Ultra program of the CIA, in which unsuspecting CIA officials were given LSD, and their reaction studied like "guinea pigs", resulted in several deaths. ....University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Finance & Commerce Founded by Eric Trist One of the "brain trusts" of Tavistock, Wharton has become one of the more important Tavistock in so far as "Behavioral Research" is concerned. Wharton attracts clients such as the U.S. Department of Labor---which teaches how to produce "cooked" statistics at the Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates Incorporated. This method was very much in demand as we came to the close of 1991 with millions more out of work than was reflected in USDL statistics. Wharton's ECONOMETRIC MODELING is used by every major Committee of 300 company in the United States, Western Europe, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and the World Bank. Institute for Social Research Among its clients are The Ford Foundation, U.S.Department of Defense, U.S.Postal Service and the U.S. Department of Justice. Among its studies are "The Human Meaning Of Social Change", "Youth in Transition" and "How Americans View Their Mental Health".

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