Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari is slamming GOP rival Tim Donnelly for his inconsistent position on “redevelopment,” a policy the California state legislature ended in 2011 with strong Republican support. “Tim Donnelly says he’s for redevelopment projects. Then he says he is really against it. But then he votes for it. Tim Donnelly is flipping all over the place,” says the Kashkari website timdonnellyfacts.com.
Redevelopment agencies, the Los Angeles Times recently recalled, were used to restore run-down areas and expand low-income housing. In so doing, they raised the value of property in surrounding areas–and brought in higher property taxes. Yet over time they were abused, using eminent domain powers to seize private property for projects that were often unnecessary, that benefited political insiders, and–above all–raised tax revenues.
As John Hrabe noted last week, Assemblyman Donnelly says he opposed redevelopment, but in 2011 he voted to preserve it as “one of the last programs we have to take sales tax revenue and turn it into real investment.” More recently, when his campaign defended redevelopment agencies as “effective economic development tools,” he denounced that “gobbledygook” statement as a “half-assed” release by a “messaging guy” on his staff.
Kashkari’s website aims to take full advantage of that apparently shifting stance, as well as of other positions on which it feels Donnelly is vulnerable, using a series of graphic animations common in Internet memes. Donnelly was far ahead of Kashkari in a Field Poll released last month, but Kashkari’s fundraising advantage will likely help him close the gap considerably, if not completely, as they fight for second place behind Gov. Jerry Brown.
Kashkari, who supports the law ending redevelopment, also released his first television ad of the campaign on Monday, entitled “Ax.” The commercial touts Kashkari, a former Treasury official, as a fiscal conservative. Kashkari wields an ax–literally–and chops a tree stump or two, as well as a model train meant to symbolize the unpopular high-speed rail project to which Gov. Brown remains committed despite high costs and technical problems.