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"It was a splendid population - for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home - you never find that sort of people among pioneers - you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day - and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, "Well, that is California all over."

- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ex-TARP GOP official eyes Brown challenge

Not exactly an "A" list candidate
Jerry Brown is not attracting major, well known opponents.

(Politico)  -  Former Treasury Department official and TARP administrator Neel Kashkari is likely to run for governor of California as a Republican in 2014 and has begun the process of gathering advisers for an anticipated campaign, POLITICO has learned.

As President George W. Bush’s assistant Treasury secretary for financial stability, Kashkari was the lead official tasked with overseeing the 2008 bank bailouts. He left the investment firm PIMCO earlier this year, citing a desire to continue a career of public service.

Republican sources say Kashkari, 40, has not made a final decision to run for governor and he is not expected to attend the Republican Governors Association retreat in Arizona this month. But he is already taking counsel from a group of experienced California hands, including strategist Aaron McLear, media consultant Todd Harris and pollster Neil Newhouse and his firm Public Opinion Strategies.

Reached by phone, McLear offered only this comment on Kashkari’s intentions: “Neel has been traveling the state talking to Californians about the challenges they face and to determine how he can best help.”

Kashkari has made no secret of his interest in pursuing elected office at some point. He has spent much of 2013 touring the state and his Twitter feed includes photos of him picking crops in Salinas, visiting a homeless shelter in Sacramento and speaking to students in East Palo Alto.

Kashkari has also met with Republican donors to assess the financial viability of a campaign, and sources said that Republicans in Kashkari’s orbit had begun reaching out to possible campaign aides, though no one has yet been hired.

Republicans face steep odds in the California gubernatorial race: In 2010, Democrats won every statewide office there despite a national GOP wave and a lavishly-funded campaign for governor by billionaire eBay alum Meg Whitman.

But rebuilding and rebranding the California GOP has to start somewhere, and some in the party believe an unconventional candidate like Kashkari could help start that process with a sober and policy-driven campaign.

On his website, Kashkari names education and economic growth as areas where Californians ought to be dissatisfied with their government. “Unfortunately today California 8th graders rank 49th in student achievement while a devastating 21% of Californians are either out of work or underemployed,” he writes on the candidate-style web page. “And Sacramento’s budget ignores literally hundreds of billions of dollars of liabilities.

Two other Republicans have already announced for the 2014 race: former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. Neither is viewed as a formidable contender.

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