Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari may have lost decisively to Governor Jerry Brown, but he won more than 40% of the statewide vote, an important threshold that may establish a foundation for his future political ambitions. Moreover, at 41.3% of the vote thus far, Kashkari outperformed fellow Republican Meg Whitman in 2010, who won only 40.9% of the vote and spent many millions more in pursuit of the prize.
Kashkari’s run seemed doomed from the start against a popular incumbent Democrat in a deep-blue state. Brown also had the media on his side, who helped him by failing to inform the California electorate that there was an election on at all. The principal focus of Kashkari and his backers seemed to be to ensure that the party moved in a more moderate direction, away from the red-meat conservatism of Assemblyman Tim Donnelly.
Fellow Republicans running for statewide office seemed eager to steer clear of Kashkari–and the feeling was apparently mutual, as Kashkari undertook stunts like living homeless for a week on the streets of Fresno, the city governed by Controller candidate Ashley Swearengin.
Yet Kashkari did well among independent voters, as well as white voters, suggesting that there might–one day–be hope for him, or other Republicans, in the state.
Whitman spent well over $100 million in her gubernatorial bid in 2010. Kashkari spent an order of magnitude less.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak