As Neel Kashkari tapped his personal coffers to put another $1 million into his gubernatorial bid Friday, GOP strategist Karl Rove declared that if Kashkari's rival ends up as the Republican standard-bearer in California after the June 3 primary, candidates across the nation would be forced to disavow him.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly "is quite prone to sharing the weird recesses and corners of his mind; it could be really problematic for the GOP," Rove told Hugh Hewitt on nationally syndicated radio. Hewitt has endorsed Kashkari.
Donnelly has made controversial statements on immigration and other matters that have drawn condemnation from Republicans. Rove said such statements would dominate the debate with incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall if Donnelly is elected in June to challenge him.
"If the California Republican Party has as the leading candidate … somebody who has said the outrageous things that he's said, and prone to the outrageous behavior that he routinely engages in, it will be used to tarnish not only the California Republican Party, but they'll throw it at everybody on the ballot," he said.
"And everybody else will, across the country, disavow the guy."
Rove joins other mainstream Republicans – notably 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former California Gov. Pete Wilson – in backing Kashkari.
Donnelly did not respond to a request for comment. But he has previously criticized the GOP elite as out of touch with regular voters and responsible for the party's string of losses.
"I'm a threat to the country-club Republicans," he told the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board earlier this week. "I'm a danger because I might bring a little more country into the club."
Rove's statement came as Kashkari doubled down on his personal investment in the governor's race, having now put $2 million of his own money into his campaign. He had previously said he did not have enough wealth – which he pegged at under $5 million – to influence the election.