Trying to increase his name recognition among voters, GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari released his first television ad on Monday and announced that he was putting $500,000 of his own money into his campaign.
“Career politicians are clueless about earning a dollar. All they know is how to spend yours. I’m Neel Kashkari. I’m not a politician, so I actually understand hard work,” Kashkari says in the 30-second ad.
Kashkari’s campaign says the ad is being broadcast statewide but declined to specify how much is being spent to air it or exactly where it is airing.
The ad features footage of a casually dressed Kashkari chopping wood with an ax in the woods as he pledges to cut taxes, increase employment and eliminate wasteful spending. He singles out the high-speed rail plan backed by incumbent Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and smashes a tiny toy locomotive with the ax. The ad also notes the endorsements of prominent Republicans, including 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Kashkari, a first-time candidate who is best known for running the taxpayer-funded bank bailout that began under President George W. Bush, is at a critical moment in his campaign. As mail ballots are arriving at the homes of voters across the state, he is unknown to most Californians, and he trails Assemblyman Tim Donnelly among the candidates who hope to take on Brown in the fall.
Kashkari, a former fund manager and investment banker who has said his net worth is less than $5 million, had previously said he would not put any of his own money into his campaign because he did not feel he could contribute enough to make a difference. A senior adviser to his campaign said Kashkari changed his mind because he believed his donation could improve his prospects in the June primary.