Republicans Breathe Sigh of Relief in California Elections
Republicans dodged a bullet in California’s primary for governor last night. Many establishment Republicans such as Karl Rove joined with conservatives such as Representative Darrell Issa to oppose the candidacy of Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, an insurgent populist who helped found the Minutemen anti-immigration movement. In the state’s unusual top-two primary (the top two finishers regardless of party advance to the November election) the incumbent Democrat won 55 percent, former Bush administration Treasury official Neel Kashkari won 19 percent, and Donnelly finished with 15 percent.
Donnelly pitched his campaign as an anti-establishment crusade saying: “I’m a threat to the country-club Republicans. I’m a danger because I might bring a little more country into the club.”
But he was abandoned by many tea-party Republicans even though his stances on some issues had appeal to many of them. Old quotes of him that were deeply offensive to Hispanic voters surfaced, he was revealed to have once been on probation for taking a loaded gun to an airport, and he bizarrely accused Kashkari (the son of Indian Hindu immigrants) of embracing sharia law.
Donnelly had no campaign infrastructure of any consequence, and his amateurish campaign would have dragged down much of the GOP ticket in California this year. While there is little chance of beating Brown (who leads Kashkari by 55 percent to 27 percent in recent polls), Republicans finished strongly in the primaries for two other statewide offices — secretary of state and controller. Kashkari’s ability to mount a credible campaign will reduce the chances the GOP will be shut out of all statewide offices for the second election in a row.