The Republican field in next year's U.S. Senate contest is still taking shape, but Neel Kashkari, the party's 2014 candidate for governor, threw his support Wednesday behind state Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside.
Chavez, who spent most of his career in the U.S. Marines, is mounting a long shot campaign for Democrat Barbara Boxer's Senate seat in a state that has largely shunned Republicans in statewide races in the last decade.
In the seven weeks since Chavez entered the race, the only other big-name Republican to announce support for his candidacy is Kevin Faulconer, the mayor of San Diego.
Kashkari, a former assistant U.S. Treasury secretary who finished 1.5 million votes behind Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in November, said in a statement that California needs "experienced and tested leaders in Washington."
"As a Marine colonel and a California Assembly member, Col. Chavez has the experience to effectively represent California in the United States Senate," Kashkari said.
Former state Republican chairmen Duf Sundheim and Tom Del Beccaro are both making preparations to join the Senate race, but neither has announced a final decision.
The only major Democrat in the contest is state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris. Several Democrats in Congress are weighing whether to run.
Candidate finance reports filed last week showed that Harris had $2.2 million in cash on hand at the end of March, while Chavez had just under $5,000.