In Silicon Valley, Kashkari touts GOP's inclusivity

In Silicon Valley, Kashkari touts GOP's inclusivity
Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, left, listens as he is introduced by Vanila Singh, a GOP congressional candidate, at a rally Saturday. (Melanie Mason / Los Angeles Times)

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari, campaigning in Silicon Valley on Saturday, cast his candidacy as an effort to restore his party's standing in the state.

With just days to go before the June 3 primary, Kashkari appeared at a rally with several GOP candidates from the region, including congressional candidate Vanila Singh.


"I've got two goals: I'm running for governor to beat Jerry Brown, to help fix the state," Kashkari said to about 75 attendees at Singh's campaign headquarters. "Number two is to help rebuild the Republican Party in California and around the state."

"Look around," Kashkari told attendees, a nod to the ethnically diverse crowd -- many of them Indian American or Asian American. "This is the Republican Party right here."

In an interview after the event, Kashkari said his emphasis on diversity was driven by a desire to rebrand the Republican Party, following the setbacks of the 2012 presidential election.

"The Republican Party had been cast as the party of 'no,' the party that didn't care about minorities or women," he said. "And I just think that's fundamentally wrong. I don't believe that's what the Republican Party really is. And I think me, as the son of immigrants, a young person--I believe I can unite us."

One name conspicuously absent from Kashkari's brief remarks was that of Tim Donnelly, Kashkari's main Republican rival in the governor's race.

Afterward, Kashkari explained he preferred to stick with a unifying message rather than refer to his opponent.

"The difference between my vision for the party and his is already abundantly clear to everybody," Kashkari said in an interview. "So I don't need to focus on explaining what his narrow vision is. I want to talk about my big tent and the big, broad vision that I have for all Republicans."

After the event, Kashkari hit the streets of Milpitas, a San Jose suburb, on foot, knocking on doors in a leafy residential neighborhood. Most knocks went unanswered, but Kashkari was able to make a pitch in person to Jose Moreno, 56, who was working inside his cluttered garage.

Handing over a campaign pamphlet, Kashkari told Moreno he was looking to "grow the economy and fix schools."

Later, Moreno said in an interview he hadn't heard of Kashkari or his gubernatorial run.

"I'm not really interested," he said. Nevertheless, he said he'd probably vote in Tuesday's primary. "We always do."