Rep. Darrell Issa said Tuesday evening that former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari's success in the statewide primary would be “critical” in order for the GOP to mount a viable challenge to Gov. Jerry Brown in November.
Issa (R-Vista) spoke to reporters at an election night event for the Republican gubernatorial candidate at a Corona del Mar movie theater as polls closed. Issa had endorsed Kashkari, an imprimatur that appeared in Kashkari's pre-primary television ad.
“It’s critical,” Issa said, “because the future of the Republican Party is about viable candidates that have a message that California needs to hear and that will resonate.”
Issa appeared along with Kashkari, who offered a low-key, brief thank you speech to a few dozen supporters who mingled at the Port Theater, sipping on bottles of beer and enjoying cookies and petit fours.
Issa had previously been sharply critical of Kashkari’s main Republican rival, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks. Issa denounced Donnelly last month for attempting to link Kashkari to fundamentalist Islamic law. Kashkari, who is of Indian descent, is Hindu.
But on Tuesday evening, Issa instead emphasized Kashkari’s qualifications to take on Brown in November. Kashkari has worked as an engineer and an investment banker, and oversaw the U.S. Treasury's bank bailout in 2008 and 2009 before running for governor.
Issa described Kashkari's resume as that of a candidate "who knows how to turn things around ... who knows about the economic viability of job creation."
The congressman, nevertheless, acknowledged that the odds of Kashkari defeating Brown are long in a state where no Republican has won statewide office since 2006.
Brown remains well ahead in polling and glided to a first-place finish in Tuesday’s election. The top two vote-getters face off in November.
But Issa said Brown is vulnerable as companies such as Toyota move jobs out of California.
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