This morning the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official and financial investment executive, announced that he has been endorsed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
The endorsement by Bush incomes on the heels of three other major GOP endorsements unveiled by the Kashkari campaign: 2012 GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former California Governor Pete Wilson, and Congressman Darrell Issa, the high-profile Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee.
In the announcement release, Governor Bush says:
Today, I’m proud to endorse Neel Kashkari, a bold conservative Republican leader, as California’s next governor…From his time in the private sector to his time in public service, Neel has demonstrated a unique ability to bring people together to achieve success in challenging circumstances. He is a principled man of action–not someone who simply leads from behind. Fixing California is no small task, but Neel Kashkari has the vision and the drive to reject the status quo and usher in a new era of opportunity for the state’s families and communities. Whether it’s creating jobs, implementing regulatory reform or improving education for children, there is no doubt that Neel is the right leader for California.
Rolling out these high profile GOP endorsements comes at a critical “make it or break it” time for Kashkari’s candidacy. Recent polls have shown Kashkari significantly lagging behind the candidacy of Republican opponent Assemblyman Tim Donnelly–who has been running an aggressive grassroots campaign, claiming the mantle of the tea party.
Californians will begin voting by absentee ballot in just a week, and this flurry of late endorsements for Kashkari will be very helpful to him, as he prepares to commence with direct voter contact, putting out mail to likely Republican voters.
Despite Kashkari’s lackluster public opinion numbers thus far, most Republicans are still undecided as to whom they will support. That could help Kashkari, as he will have raised north of seven figures to finance mail pieces and cable television spots targeting the GOP base. In addition, he has purchased a presence on more than ten million pieces of slate card mail (these mailers feature a broad number of candidates and causes who all pay a fee to appear).
Jeb Bush, of course, has been talked about as a potential candidate for the Presidency in 2016–he has told potential supporters that he will make a decision on that before year’s end.
Third party validation is an important component of influencing the electorate if you are relatively unknown, which both candidates are in this race.
The full text of Governor Bush’s endorsement letter of Kashkari can be found here.