Neel Kashkari conceded the governor’s race to incumbent Jerry Brown at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa on Tuesday night.
Kashkari appeared before a crowd of around 100 supporters at 8:24 p.m., entering the room to Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”
He began by congratulating Brown on winning his unprecedented fourth term. He then challenged the governor to “please be bold.”
“We came up short today so I’m in no position to make grand statements or any bold demands,” Kashkari said, adding that he had one humble request of the governor: to “push the special interests aside, fight for the kids of California, to fight for the working families of California.”
“In your last four years, you can be the boldest governor in California history,” Kashkari said. “The power is in your hands.”
He said his campaign was “always a long shot, always a total mountain to climb,” but added that he had no regrets.
“This was always about … the future of California and the future of the Republican Party,” he said, vowing to continue to pursue familiar themes of improving education and bolstering the middle class. He also said he spoke with Brown and offered to do whatever he could to help advance those efforts.
“I want you to know this: I’m just getting warmed up,” he told the crowd.
From the outset, Kashkari had been considered a long-shot to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat seeking his fourth term. Results of a recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of likely voters showed the challenger trailing by a wide margin, 56% to 37%.
A former aerospace engineer and Goldman Sachs investment banker, Kashkari, 41, is a fiscal conservative and social moderate who has never held elective office. The son of Indian immigrants, he may be best known for his stint as head of the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program -- the Wall Street bailout -- during the national financial crisis.
Those who know the Laguna Beach Republican have described him as bright, energetic and direct. But unfortunately for his gubernatorial aspirations, he has remained unknown to many California voters, even as he spent more than $3 million of his own money on his campaign.
Combined with the additional $4 million he raised from others, his total is but a fraction of what most gubernatorial candidates spend in a state with 17.6 million voters and some of the nation’s most expensive television advertising markets.
Kashkari focused much of his campaign on broad issues such as jobs and schools, and said he wanted to rebuild the Republican Party and reintroduce it to California voters. He walked precincts and worked phones across the state, often stumping for Republican candidates at campaign events and on radio shows.