Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly dismissed the nearly $1 million his GOP rival Neel Kashkari raised in the two weeks since entering the race, saying that the former U.S. Treasury official is too similar to incumbent Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to offer a real contrast for voters.
"I don't think he has a chance. I don't care if he raises $10 million, I just don't think he has a chance," Donnelly said in an interview Wednesday evening. "Why would people go for a Jerry Brown copy when they could have the real thing?"
Donnelly, a GOP Assemblyman from Twin Peaks and a tea party favorite, spoke as he was being driven from the Pebble Beach golf course, where he met with a nonprofit that provides disabled veterans with accessible seating on the edge of the 18th hole at the AT&T Pro-Am Tournament. He was headed to a fundraiser in Salinas, where donors were asked for a minimum donation of $99 per person or $150 per person.
Donnelly has struggled with fundraising in the gubernatorial contest, reporting last week that in 2013 he raised $374,000 and had $54,000 in the bank entering the new year. He has argued he is embarking on a different kind of political campaign, one reliant on voter contact and on smart use of social media.
Incumbent Democrat Brown reported a $17-million war-chest at the start of the year. Kashkari did not formally announce his bid until late January, so he did not have to file a fundraising disclosure yet, but on Wednesday, he reported raising nearly $1 million in the two weeks he has officially been in the race.
Donnelly compared Kashkari to billionaire Meg Whitman, the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee in California. Like Kashkari, she had also not held elected office before running for governor, though Kashkari has argued that his service in Treasury shows his commitment to public service. Whitman ultimately spent $144 million of her own wealth on the 2010 campaign, vastly outspending Brown.
"Campaigns are not about raising money. Campaigns are about raising votes," Donnelly said. "If you look at what happened to Meg Whitman in 2010, there was no limit to money, but the message was not a message that inspired."
Still, Whitman did crush then-Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a fellow Republican, in the 2010 primary. In that period, she contributed $91 million of her own money, while he put in $24 million of his wealth, according to state records.
Donnelly dismissed the comparison to Poizner.
"The time in which we live, in 2014, there's something in the air," he said. "In order to capitalize in this opportunity, to seize the moment, you really have to have a message that resonates, and you have to build a tremendous support."