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Neel Kashkari, behind in polls, continues campaigning in election homestretch

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

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We're less than a week away from Election Day and one race in California seems to be all but decided. The latest polls show incumbent Governor Jerry Brown with a 17 point lead over his Republican challenger Neel Kashkari. 

But Kashkari is not giving up yet. He's still out on the campaign trail. Yesterday, after a talk at the Pasadena Republican Women Federated Luncheon, Kashkari joined Take Two to talk about why he's running for Governor and what's next for him if he doesn't win.


Why not start off a political career here in California on a somewhat less ambitious front, something like Secretary of State?

I want to do big things for the state of California. I want to bring jobs back, I want to fix the schools. And I didn't see anybody raising their hand to say, 'You know what, I'm going to take on these challenges.' And if no one else was going to stand up and really take on these challenges, then who's going to do it if not me?

To date, you've spent more than $6 million [on your campaign]. A lot of that is your own personal money. Any sense of whether or not you're going to invest more, and if so, how much in these last few days?

Well I've invested about 75 percent of all of the money I've saved over my life, I don't have much left to go, so I don't think that I'm going to be able to do much more to move the needle here. But this is how important these issues are. 

You know, a big issue that I'm focusing on in the last weeks of the campaign is education. It's about this famous case called Vergara, where kids sued the Governor, and said that they want a fair chance at a good education, and the courts backed the kids and said they were right, they're being deprived of their rights to a good education. And then Jerry Brown decided to fight those kids in court. And he's now backing his unions that have funded his political career. 

So to me, these issues are so important, I want to use every technique, every asset at my disposal, to get the message out, to let families know what issues are on the table.

You had requested a number of debates with Governor Brown, he granted you one. In this homestretch, you're out there campaigning hare every day, he's gone off to his school reunion and he's out campaigning for propositions instead of running for Governor. How does that make you feel at the end of the day?

It makes me feel like... I'm on the right issues. I'm on a mission to focus on the issues that people care about. So think about the great irony, Jerry Brown is fighting poor minority kids in court who just want a good education, meanwhile he's going to his 50th reunion at Yale. Bravo, Governor. I call him the 'let them eat cake' Governor. If people are hungry, just have some cake, that's Jerry Brown's solution. I'm going to continue to fight every day for the kids in California who Jerry Brown has betrayed. And I sleep like a baby.

But doesn't it make you frustrated? You wanted to debate, you wanted to get into it with him.

We did... and I clobbered him. And he knows it... I don't blame him for not wanting to debate me again. If that was how the debate went for me, I wouldn't want to debate again either.

Let's say you don't win, what comes next for you?

Well I want to stay involved, and I want to stay active, and I want to continue to help invest to turn California around and rebuild the Republican Party around this positive, inclusive message. 

I don't know what specifically that's going to lead to. As you noted, I've spent most of my savings on this campaign, so I'm probably going to need to get a job. And there's nothing wrong with that. The thing that motivates me is I want to be challenged, and I want to do something I think is important, and I think that that can be satisfied both in the public arena as well as the private arena.