Former Gov. Pete Wilson on Thursday added his voice to those saying GOP Assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly’s attempt to link rival Neel Kashkari to fundamentalist Islam disqualifies him from elected office.
"His effort to, by implication, suggest that Neel Kashkari favors the imposition of sharia law is stupid, but it's also contemptible. Someone capable of that kind of statement is not fit to hold office," Wilson said in an interview Thursday.
Wilson, who endorsed Kashkari earlier this year, is the latest of several Republican officials and organizations to slash at Donnelly about his comments about Kashkari -- a Hindu and the son of immigrants from India -- and the Islam-based code that governs personal and business behavior.
Kashkari has called Donnelly’s assertion "absurd on its face."
Wilson made his remarks just before the first and perhaps only debate between Donnelly and Kashkari, and with less than four weeks to go before the June 3 primary.
He also knocked Donnelly for an incident in which the assemblyman tried to board an airplane with a loaded gun in his carry-on.
"I support 2nd Amendment rights, but [that] is betraying a woeful lack of judgment," Wilson said.
Donnelly, who said he had forgotten that the gun was in his briefcase, remains on probation for the incident.
If Donnelly is the GOP standard-bearer in the fall, such controversies would take attention away from serious matters that deserve a full airing, such as the state’s "terrible" business climate, Wilson said.
"I want the focus in the governor’s race to be on the real issues," he said. "That should have the attention of the voters."
An attempt to reach Donnelly was unsuccessful. But on Wednesday, he lashed out at the Republican officials who were rallying around Kashkari, saying they were out of touch.
"I'm a threat to the country-club Republicans," Donnelly, who is from Twin Peaks in San Bernardino County, told the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board. "I'm a danger -- because I might bring a little more country into the club."