Gene Maddus at our sister paper LA Weekly had this funny headline over a blog post Thursday: “Republicans Abel Maldonado and Tim Donnelly in Fierce Contest for Right to Lose to Jerry Brown.” It's not a bad call considering the Field Poll that just came out that shows the governor with the support of 52 percent of registered voters, moderate Republican Abel Maldonado with 11 percent and Tea Partier Tim Donnelly with 9 percent.
But what about a certain Orange Countian?
No, not John Moorlach, whose correct prediction of Orange County's bankruptcy swept him into county government and eventually a seat on the Board of Supervisors. Soon to be termed out, that lovable Lurch has made it known he has abandoned previously discussed plans to run for governor and will instead seek the open congressional seat left by retiring Rep. John Campbell–even though it is based in Irvine and Moorlach resides a district over in Costa Mesa.
Instead, we may one day enter the California governor's office to kneel before Neel Kashkari, who was a managing director in charge of new investment initiatives at billions and billions-strong PIMCO* of Newport Beach, where he has been employed since 2009. Before that, the 40-year-old son of Indian immigrants was the U.S. Treasury official in charge of the bank bailout at the height of the recession, in 2008 and part of '09.
Kashkari spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday–you can read a version here–about why he is considering something he has not considered before: a run for public office. He says he wants to improve the state's economy and schools and lower the poverty rate. The Republican–yes, Republican–called it “shocking” no one is talking about California's 23 percent poverty rate, scoring some political points over Brown's reaction to that data.
“[W]hen Governor Brown, by the way, came out a few weeks ago and said 'Oh well, it's because California is so attractive and we attract all these poor people here,' I mean, that was outrageous,” Kashkari said. “Not only did he abdicate any responsibility for dealing with the issue, he actually blamed the poor for being poor.”
He just might be the kind of Republican who can out-Jerry Jerry. Oh, sure, Kashkari would campaign for GOP standbys like job creation, cutting regulations and incentives for businesses to move to California. But he also made news this by signing an amicus curiae brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. That fits with his libertarian world view, which includes support for abortion rights (but, sadly, opposition to legalizing marijuana).
While he has been quietly meeting with the usual wealthy Republican donor suspects in recent weeks, Kashkari has also been turning up at a place most conservatives only wind up at when they misunderstand Siri's turn command: homeless shelters.
One other thing: he's loaded.
(*Correction: Kashkari left PIMCO in January 2013 to pursue public service, according to a campaign spokesperson.)
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.