Major Republican donor Charles Munger Jr. has contributed $350,000 to a new independent committee he formed to boost GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, a reflection of establishment Republicans’ growing concern about his bid.
The move brings the total being spent by others on the candidate’s behalf to more than $650,000, according to records filed with the secretary of state’s office.
The new group, called Californians for Kashkari for Governor 2014, has raised a total of $415,000, including $50,000 from billionaire investment fund founder Robert Day. The organization, which by law cannot coordinate its efforts with the candidate, was formed Monday and has already reported spending more than $170,000 on mailers.
Moderate and establishment Republicans have increasingly grown concerned about Kashkari’s prospects in the June 3 primary, and about a string of controversies over statements from Kashkari’s closest and slightly better known rival, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. They fear that Donnelly as the party’s standard-bearer in November could further damage its already tarnished brand.
Kashkari, a first-time candidate and former U.S. Treasury official and banker, remains largely unknown to most voters. Polling shows him trailing the conservative Donnelly, and he has failed to raise the money he expected to, prompting him to pump $2 million of his own cash into his campaign.
Munger had already donated $27,200, the legal maximum, to Kashkari’s primary bid. Asked about his support for Kashkari, Munger said in a statement last week, “Along with former Governors Pete Wilson and Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, I am supporting Neel Kashkari for Governor.” He declined to respond to additional questions.
Munger is a major donor to Republican candidates and efforts to rebuild the GOP in California, where it is at a historic low in voter registration. Since the beginning of 2013, the billionaire has spent more than $3.1 million on candidates and state and local parties.
Real estate billionaire William Bloomfield, former Pimco chief William S. Thompson and Orange County real estate management executive Michael Hayde have previously reported spending nearly $250,000 on mail ads on Kashkari’s behalf.