Update, 7 a.m. Wednesday: Tim Donnelly has conceded the race to Neel Kashkari. “Unfortunately the numbers don’t lie,” he told a crowd of supporters. (And those numbers, with 100 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, show Kashkari having built a 132,000-vote edge over Donnelly). Percentages for the top three: Gov. Jerry Brown: 54.5 percent Neel Kaskari: 19 percent Assemblyman Tim Donnelly: 14.8 percent
Update: 10:15 p.m.: With just 20 percent of precincts reporting and the two Republican gubernatorial candidates just three points apart from each other, the race is far from over. But former Bush and Obama Administration official Neel Kashkari was feeling confident enough to address his supporters a few minutes ago. “We feel great, alright? We feel great,” he said. “The early returns are very encouraging.”
Kashkari leads Assemblyman Tim Donnelly by about 55,000 votes, or a bit less than three percentage points. While Kashkari trailed in most polls, he was able to gain back ground at the end of the race by spending about $2 million of his own money, and by promoting the endorsements of high-profile Republican leaders like Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. “I just got a call from Mitt Romney,” Kashkari told the crowd. “Governor Romney was very encouraged by the early returns.”
Update: 9:10 p.m.: With about ten percent of precincts reporting, Neel Kashkari is leading Tim Donnelly by about 50,000 votes in the race for the second general election gubernatorial slot. The two Republicans trail far behind incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown, who is sailing to first place on the fall ballot with about 55 percent of the vote.
Kashkari has led Donnelly all night, but the mellow crowd here in Orange County hasn’t seemed too enthralled by the returns. There are only about 50 supporters here, and the first cheers of the night didn’t begin until one of the local television stations did a live report from the Corona Del Mar theater the Kashkari campaign has rented out.
Update, 8:30 p.m.: The early returns are playing out as expected: Governor Jerry Brown hovering around 60 percent, with Republicans Neel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly neck-and-neck for second place.
Brown was expected to cruise to a first-place finish, and the Associated Press called the race for him with just 4.5 percent of precincts reporting. The question among observers now is how high Brown can go, and whether his final total will top 60 percent.
Kashkari held a lead of about 40,000 votes over Donnelly – that’s a bit more than three percentage points – with about six percent reporting. That’s welcome news for the Kashkari campaign, who expected the mail-in ballots that report early to break for Donnelly. The Tea Party candidate had held a wide lead over Kashkari until late in the race, when Kashkari began airing television ads.
Original Post: The race for governor is really a race for second place. Incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown is expected to cruise to first place in the gubernatorial primary tonight. The question is whether a former official in the Bush and Obama administrations, Neel Kashkari, or Assemblyman Tim Donnelly will advance to face Brown in the fall.
The two Republicans occupy very different sides of the GOP spectrum. Kashkari holds many social views typically aligned with Democrats: He’s pro-same sex marriage, supports abortion rights and, as Donnelly has pointed out throughout the campaign, voted for President Barack Obama in 2008.
Donnelly, on the other hand, comes from the tea party wing of the GOP. He made his name as a Minuteman in 2005 and 2006, and continued to aggressively oppose undocumented immigration after he was elected to the state Assembly. Donnelly is a high-profile gun rights advocate, and supported efforts to repeal a law allowing transgender students to use the facilities of their choice in schools.
While Donnelly has led Kashkari in most polls leading up to the primary, Kashkari was able to close the gap — and according to a Los Angeles Times poll, even move ahead — by sinking $2 million of his own money into his campaign and airing television ads.