Condoleezza Rice endorses Neel Kashkari for governor

Condoleezza Rice, whom many California Republicans hoped would run for governor, endorses Neel Kashkari

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who many California Republicans hoped would run for governor, on Wednesday endorsed GOP candidate Neel Kashkari.

“Our party must champion policies and principles that make opportunity and the American dream more accessible for all. I believe electing Neel Kashkari as governor will bring to Sacramento the fresh perspective and bold reforms we need to accomplish that,” Rice said in a statement.

“Neel’s focus on uniting Californians around fiscally conservative economic principles is the right message to help us grow the Republican Party in California and across the nation,” she said.

Rice, who served in President George W. Bush’s administration, is director of the Global Center for Business and the Economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She was recently in the headlines when she withdrew as the commencement speaker at Rutgers University after protests over her role in the war in Iraq.

Rice spoke at the California Republican Party’s spring convention in March, leading many delegates to hope she would launch a bid to become governor. She has told party leaders that she is not interested in running for office.

Since leaving Washington, Rice has spent her time teaching, writing a book and serving on a committee that is overhauling the college football championship. Last year she became one of the first two women granted membership at Augusta National Golf Club.

She has issued a limited number of endorsements, including ones for Mitt Romney for president in 2012, Meg Whitman for California governor in 2010, Carly Fiorina for senator in 2010 and Damon Dunn for Long Beach mayor this year.

Rice is the latest in a string of high-profile Republicans to back Kashkari, joining Romney, former California Gov. Pete Wilson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Darrell Issa.

Kashkari, a first-time candidate who served in President Bush’s Treasury Department, is struggling in his gubernatorial bid, trailing GOP rival Tim Donnelly in the polls. In recent days, Kashkari put $1 million of his own money into his campaign.

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