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Gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari calls Jerry Brown lazy

PoliticsElectionsJerry BrownFinanceEconomy, Business and FinanceU.S. Department of the Treasury

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari said Friday he was confident he could raise enough cash to defeat incumbent Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

"It's going to cost tens of millions of dollars; there's no question we're going to be outgunned," he told a gathering of Latino business owners in Downey. "I think we'll be able to raise the resources to be competitive. Even if we're outgunned, we're going to fight."

Kashkari said he met with about 800 potential donors as he pondered whether to run, a decision he announced Tuesday. Whether he can raise money — and is willing to spend his own — is a key question.

In an interview, Kashkari said he did not expect to tap his own wealth, which he has estimated at less than $5 million, for his campaign.

"The amount of money I could afford to put in isn't going to move the needle," said the former U.S. Treasury Department official, fund manager, investment banker and engineer. "I'm just focused on raising the money from donors."

On the stump Friday, Kashkari did not mention his main GOP rival, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, and said he has never met him. He reserved his fire for Brown, who he said is dishonest about the magnitude of California's fiscal problems and is taking false credit for repairing state finances.

Brown, Kashkari said, has failed to tackle California's greatest financial problem: paying for public pensions.

"I think Gov. Brown is an honorable man; he's a man who comes from wealth.... He's chosen a life of service. I admire him for that," Kashkari said. But "he must be lazy, because he's clearly intelligent — I can't find any other explanation for why he's unwilling to make the changes that need to be made."

Dan Newman, a political spokesman for Brown, ridiculed Kashkari's words and highlighted the Republican's inconsistent voting record.

"The governor has been called a lot of things by a lot of people, but Jerry Brown 'lazy?' I know Kashkari has been too busy to vote, but it sounds like he also hasn't had time to read a newspaper in 40 years,"  Newman said.

"It's Jerry Brown's leadership — through prudent budgets, tough cuts and Prop. 30 — that turned our massive deficit into a surplus," he said.

seema.mehta@latimes.com

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