With a week to go before the primary, a glossy new mailer funded by GOP establishment forces began hitting mailboxes, trying to boost Neel Kashkari's gubernatorial bid by telling voters about Republican rival Tim Donnelly's criminal past.
The headline on the four-page flier, funded by a group formed by billionaire Charles Munger Jr., blares in large type, "An Urgent Warning from Gov. Pete Wilson about Candidate Tim Donnelly!"
The mailer notes that Donnelly is on probation for taking a loaded gun to Ontario Airport. Donnelly has said that he didn't realize the weapon was in his carry-on bag. The incident, along with other controversies, prompted former Gov. Wilson to argue that Donnelly is unfit for elected office.
The flier also cites scathing comments by Rep. Darrell Issa about statements Donnelly made trying to tie Kashkari, a Hindu of Indian descent, to fundamentalist Islamic law. On the final page, the flier highlights Kashkari’s support from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov.
The mailer comes as Donnelly has been leading in public opinion polls, despite Kashkari's steep fundraising edge and establishment support. Munger launched his pro-Kashkari effort last week, putting $350,000 into an independent expenditure group that he created. By law, the group cannot coordinate its activities with the candidate.
After news of Munger's effort became public, Donnelly told reporters in Fresno that it was unsurprising that Munger was meddling in the race. Munger has spent more than $3.1 million since 2013 on GOP causes, often on internal party battles, which Donnelly noted as he questioned Munger's motives.
"I think his goal is to destroy the Republican party," Donnelly said on Thursday, after speaking at a Republican women's luncheon. He pointed to Kashkari's record leading the taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout as a U.S. Treasury official in President George W. Bush's administration.
"I believe [Munger] cannot buy this election, and the fact his money is behind the bank bailout guy -- surprise, surprise. I don't think it surprises anybody," Donnelly said. "I think what's going to surprise people is how much money they have wasted that could have been spent to actually win elections for Republicans."
Kashkari on Thursday said that he welcomed the new effort, which brings outside spending on his behalf to more than $650,000.