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California governor candidate Neel Kashkari lands blows on Jerry Brown in debate

Neel Kashkari
Neel Kashkari
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Neel Kashkari, the long shot Republican candidate for governor of California, is not expected to win against the Democratic incumbent, Jerry Brown. He is 16 points behind in the polls and is being heavily outspent. But that did not stop him from mounting a vigorous assault on Brown during the one and only debate the two candidates are having for the 2014 election cycle, according to a Friday story in the Associated Press.

Kashkari’s main line of attack concerned Tesla’s decision to build a car battery plant in Nevada rather than California. He cited this as an example of Brown’s failure to keep and attract business in the Golden State. The problem of businesses fleeing California to lower tax, lower regulation states like Texas is quite real. Texas Gov. Rick Perry once visited California to urge businesses there to come to Texas. Brown claimed that Tesla, an electric car company owned by entrepreneur Elon Musk, wanted a huge, off front payment which would have been “unfair” to Californians.

Kaskari went on the attack on environmental issues as well. He laid into Brown for his “climate change” based regulations that are due to hike gas prices and utility bills in California. He accused Brown of using expected revenues from those price increases to fund a $100 billion plus high speed rail project that is seen by many to be a boondoggle. Brown shot back that the regulations are necessary to combat global warming and that high speed rail is cheaper than alternatives like more highways.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the 16 “pause” in global warming is likely to continue for a few more decades. There is growing scientific consensus that temperature increases brought on by greenhouse gasses is being counteracted by other factors such as natural fluctuations of currents in the Atlantic Ocean. That would tend to tamp down on the urgency for government measures to combat climate change, since it does not seem to be happening.

Kaskari also hit Brown on his support for a state wide plastic bag ban and his support for teachers’ unions over court ruling that overturned teacher tenure for being unfair to poor and minority students. The two candidates wrangled over Kaskari’s inexperience in politics vs. Brown’s being out of touch on account of being a lifelong politician. However, clearly, the advantage in the debate was Kaskari’s. It may not be enough for him to close the gap, but the long shot candidate is at least fighting for the position as governor of California.