Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed California Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari on Tuesday, saying Kashkari had the skills to fix the state’s troubled schools and grow its economy.
“California needs a leader who will take on bold reforms that put students first,” Bush wrote in a letter announcing his endorsement. “Neel comes from a business background, but his passion is fostering more opportunity for California’s children by empowering teachers and parents and unleashing the power of the market to create good jobs.”
“From his time in the private sector to his time in public service, Neel has demonstrated a unique ability to bring people together to achieve success in challenging circumstances,” Bush wrote. “He is a principled man of action — not someone who simply leads from behind.”
Bush’s announcement comes one day after Kashkari was endorsed by a trio of other prominent Republicans — 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and sitting U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista.
Bush, who is weighing a presidential bid in 2016, is well known for his work on education and lauded for academic gains made by Florida students, including the poor and minorities, while he was governor. Kashkari consulted Bush as he devised his recently released education policy, which calls for overhauling California’s school system, eliminating much of the education code and changing how schools are funded.
Kashkari, who worked in the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush, brother of the former Florida governor, is scrambling to remain viable in the gubernatorial race. He is trailing in the GOP field behind Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, has not raised as much money as he had hoped and remains unknown to many voters.
Kashkari and Donnelly are the main GOP competitors for one of two top-finisher spots in the June 3 primary. Incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is the overwhelming favorite for the other spot and for victory in the fall.