Neel Kashkari, 40, declared his Republican candidacy for California Governor on Tuesday, January 21. If you weren’t paying attention at the time, Neel Kashkari helped engineer the $700 billion bailout of American banks during the 2008 financial crisis. Kashkari has worked in the United States Treasury Department under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Kashkari has always been a Republican. He has never held public office.
Neel Kashkari has worked for Goldman Sachs, the investment banking house. He has also worked for Pimco, the world’s largest bond-trading company. Pimco has its headquarters in Orange County, California.
Neel Kashkari: a different Republican candidate
Kashkari is different from the typical Republican running for statewide office in California. He has libertarian social views, meaning that he favors both abortion and same-sex marriage rights.
On other political matters, Neel Kashkari favors creating more jobs and improving the public school system. “Jobs and education, jobs and education, that’s it,” Kashkari recently told a group of business leaders in Sacramento.
Neel Kashkari is strongly opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build a high-speed train between Northern and Southern California.
If Brown, 75, decides to run for a fourth term — has was elected governor in 1974, 1978, and 2010 — he would probably be hard to beat in heavily Democratic California, where Democrats hold now super-majorities in both houses of the State Legislature.
California Republicans currently hold no statewide offices. But Republicans may benefit from a fresh face who is not tied to traditional Republican dogma.
California has a reputation of being hostile to business. Different surveys show California as being the between the 46th and 50th worst state for business.
What is not in dispute is that California has the nation’s highest sales tax and gasoline tax. In regard to the personal income tax, California has the nation’s top bracket: 13.3 percent. The California Legislature is the highest paid in the nation, and members of the legislature received a pay raise in December 2013.
California’s official unemployment rate is 8.5 percent. The national rate is 6.7 percent.
Perhaps the time is not right to have a moderate Republican govern California. But certainly the California Republican Party needs something new. Neel Kashkari could fit the bill. And California could benefit from more jobs and more economic growth.