Former U.S. Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari didn't win much more than the right to lose to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown again when he claimed the second place spot in California's top-two gubernatorial primary on Tuesday.
But faced with the prospect of almost certain loss to the popular Brown in November, the California Republican Party avoided a more regretful fate at the hands of far-right state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who sought to appeal to the state's ever-shrinking cohort of highly conservative voters and held potential to damage Republican prospects in competitive House and legislative races farther down the ballot.
Kashkari, who administered the 2008 bank bailout under former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, placed a distant second to Brown, the popular incumbent, who won more than 54 percent of the vote — well more than double Kashkari's 19 percent. Donnelly finished a close third with 16 percent and will not proceed to the general election.
Kashkari performed a last-minute turnaround in the final weeks of the race, helped along by $2 million of his own money and the financial backing of billionaire Charles Munger Jr., who put hundreds of thousands of dollars toward an independent-expenditure effort intended to boost the second generation Indian-American's prospects. Kashkari was also endorsed by a gaggle of top-tier Republicans, including 2012 vice presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Gov. Pete Wilson.