Kashkari puts another $500,000 of his own money into gubernatorial bid

Kashkari puts another $500,000 of his own money into gubernatorial bid
Republican Neel Kashkari, who is running for governor of California, trails Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari donated an additional $500,000 of his own money to his campaign, bringing his self-funding total to $1 million, according to a filing posted on the secretary of state’s website Friday.

Kashkari, who is trailing badly in the polls behind GOP frontrunner Tim Donnelly, was not available for comment. But a spokeswoman said he was investing the money because he believed it could help him beat Donnelly to secure one of the top two spots in the June primary and take on incumbent Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall.

“He always said priority No 1 is to make big changes that he believes the state needs, and obviously, his second goal is to rebuild the Republican Party,” said spokeswoman Jessica Ng, saying the money would be spent to publicize Kashkari’s platform.

Typically, such efforts include television and mail advertising.

When he entered the race in January, Kashkari had hoped to raise several million dollars and said he would not fund his own campaign because he believed any amount he could spend would not be enough to have an impact.

The donor support he hoped for has not materialized – he has raised about $1.8 million from other sources. On Monday, he announced that he was giving his campaign $500,000.

Kashkari  has said his net worth is less than $5 million, so he has committed more than one-fifth of his wealth to his bid.

“Is it smart? I think only his financial advisor would be able to tell him that,” said Beth Miller, a GOP strategist who advised 2010 Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina, who with her husband had a net worth estimated between $30 million and $120 million, lent her unsuccessful campaign $6.8 million. About $1.3 million of the loan has been repaid, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Miller said it was critical for Kashkari, a first-time candidate, to increase his name identification among Republican voters. But she warned that if he is successful in June, he will face a major, much more expensive battle to make headway against Brown.
“When you’re far behind in the polls and you need to get up and boost advertising and you have money, it’s one of the only options you have…. Strategic use of $1 million in the closing weeks of a campaign can be very helpful,” Miller said. “From there, I think it’s going to be an uphill struggle…. He’s still a relative unknown to the vast majority of California voters.”