LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As the Midterm Primary Election approaches, two top GOP candidates, Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari, both say they are the right person to unseat current California Governor Jerry Brown.
Both candidates spoke with CBS2 political reporter Dave Bryan about their positions as competitors, and discussed their very different backgrounds — Donnelly, a Tea Party favorite and former minute man, and Kashkari, former treasury official and newcomer to California politics.
Donnelly says he owned a successful small business, until government regulation, he says, all but ruined him. He says he was driven into politics by what he calls extreme environmental regulations.
“Along came the government, and regulated me out of business,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly became a minute man on the border when he became frustrated with illegal immigration.
Critics of Donnelly allege that he is an extremist, and say that he had charged Kashkari as being compliant with Islamic Sharia Law.
Donnelly disagrees that he ever took that stance.
“I never once many any kind of a reference to that,” Donnelly said. “I never called him any names.”
Kashkari, meanwhile, says that he agrees with critics who claim that Donnelly is dangerous for the Republican party.
Kashkari, whose parents immigrated from Kashmir in the 1960s, worked for the multinational investment banking firm, The Goldman Sachs Group, in San Francisco. With the firm, Kashkari specialized in software companies in the investment banking division.
Following the tanking of the economy, Kashkari went to work for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, overseeing the TARP program, which has been reviled by many conservatives.
“Having prevented that economic collapse, gotten all the money back, made a profit for the taxpayers, and done it in a bipartisan manner, I am exceptionally proud for the work that we did,” Kashkari said.
A number of fellow republicans have criticized Kashkari for having voted for President Barack Obama in 2008.
He calls the gubernatorial election for California a battle for the future of the republican party.
“We have a choice to make right now,” Kashkari said. “Grow our party, and bring everyone together, and make big changes, and succeed, or shrink our party, and (let) it become more and more irrelevant.”
Jerry Brown commanded a forty point lead over both GOP candidates in the week before the election, according to polls.