Mr. Donnelly was well on his way to being the Republican standard-bearer this November against the current governor, Democrat Jerry Brown.
And had Mr. Donnelly won the GOP nomination, he would have lost, and lost badly.
The reason that Mr. Donnelly is not the GOP standard-bearer is summed up in two words.
Mr. Kashkari is not a household name in California politics. And really, neither is Mr. Donnelly. But Mr. Kashkari came in late to be the moderate great hope in wresting the nomination from the clutches of the strong conservative Mr. Donnelly.
Before I explain why I voted for Mr. Donnelly over Mr. Kashkari, let me explain why I could not vote for Mr. Kashkari now.
Mr. Kashkari, IMO, biggest problem is that he essentially was one of the leading figures in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP.
Why is TARP so bad?
Because it is essentially a bailout of big banks that got in trouble for primarily signing off on many, many bad loans essentially to people to buy homes. People that, regrettably, should not have been encouraged to buy a home in the first place. Because of this, the federal government bailed out big banks and forced some to merge with others.
Ever heard of Washington Mutual savings bank?
That was my bank when the crap hit the fan back in 2008. WAMU, as it was better known, was knee-deep in the mortgage problem. To cut to the chase, WAMU filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the feds made a marriage of sorts by merging their assets with JP Morgan Chase bank. WAMU is no more and I am now a customer of Chase.
And to top off his helping craft the TARP scheme, Mr. Kashkari also supported the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, also known as EESA. That is essentially companion legislation to TARP.
Bottom line is this.
Mr. Kashkari believed that the federal government had to save the American banking industry.
I, and many conservative and Republicans did not. I should point out that even some Democrats were not supportive of the legislation.
Yet in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Kashkari said that he was a "free-market Republican."
A free-market Republican would never have done what Mr. Kashkari did to be the power behind the largest government bailout ever. A free-market Republican, note he did not say conservative, would have let the chips fall where they may. Yes, the economy would take a large hit. But new banks would have emerged from the damage that at a level they themselves created.
So, I find Mr. Kashkari would not have a problem using big government to obtain a certain outcome. Something that a conservative Republican would not.
Yes, Mr. Kashkari is very much a "libertarian" on the left's two favorite social issues.
Mr. Kashkari supports same-sex marriage and abortion.
And just to infuriate people like myself, Mr. Kashkari also so-called "comprehensive" immigration reform.
Where have I heard this before? Where, oh where?
Ahh, that would be the former governor of the once Golden State, one "Republican" Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger.
My problems with Mr. Kashkari is that he is essentially another Gov. Benedict Arnold and would not be all that different from the current occupant of the governor's office, Gov. Brown.
So, why would I vote for Mr. Donnelly, a certain loser in November?
Some of it is that he is the devil I know.
Basically, Mr. Donnelly is a one-issue kind of legislator. And the issue that he is heavily involved in is illegal immigration.
Mr. Donnelly cut his teeth in the so-called Minuteman movement of the mid-2000s. They were citizen volunteer patrols along the United States-Mexico border. They were controversial because some members bordered on being outright racists. But most who were members and or supporters are not racists. They are concerned about the problem of illegal immigration and the then George W. Bush administration lack of control on the Southern border.
Regrettably, they have been right all the way along about the damage illegal immigration has done especially along the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Mr. Donnelly rode his credentials and took on an embattled Republican assemblyman, Anthony Adams, and defeated him in the last closed party primary in 2010 and won election to the assembly with 57% of the vote. Mr. Donnelly won reelection in 2012 as well.
On most issues, Mr. Donnelly is standard conservative. For lower taxes, less government regulation. Against same-sex marriage and abortion on demand and so-called "comprehensive" immigration reform.
Part of why in the end I daubed the ink blot on Mr. Donnelly's name on the ballot is that I find him to be a fighter. somebody that does have a set of beliefs about government and it's proper role in society. Someone not afraid to take on Democrats as well as even some fellow Republicans.
Mr. Donnelly also showed how a shoe-string campaign can be done and almost successful.
Here is a big difference between the two men.
Mr. Donnelly announced that he was seeking the GOP nomination on January 22, 2013. Mr. Kashkari announced his intentions on January 21, 2014, almost a full year later. Mr. Donnelly was busy trying to get support from all over California and of course among Republican rank-and-file voters and the activists that any candidate needs to work for the eventual candidate. Mr. Donnelly used the internet to promote his candidacy and this internet ad gave a lot of publicity for his campaign:
OK, maybe citing Mrs. Donnelly as the sexist girl in California may have been over the top in the polite circles of politics, but the point is, Mr. Donnelly got a lot of free publicity.
Mr. Donnelly was racking up endorsements from many county GOP committees, including the Los Angeles county party.
But, in a telling sign, the California Republican party convention in March did not endorse either Mr. Donnelly or Mr. Kashkari. In the past election in 2012, the state GOP endorsed candidates in the first "open primary" since passage of an innitive in 2010 that ended closed party primaries.
Mr. Donnelly was doing very old-school retail politics the best he could on limited funds and not gaining a lot once Mr. Kashkari entered the race in January.
Mr. Kashkari, again IMHO, came in late because the establishment could not bear the thought of losing to Gov. Brown by 30 points. I mean, even the guru himself, Karl Rove, made the lamest "endorsement" of Mr. Kashkari with this awe-inspiring quote:
"If the Republicans have to pick someone to lose to Jerry Brown, they’d be stupid not to pick Kashkari."
To people like Mr. Rove and his ilk, we California Republicans should lose, but gracefully, to Gov. Brown.
And yes, almost all of Mr. Kashkari's endorsements were from the usual establishment types such as Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, et al. But, congressman Darrel Issa, a strong conservative, endorsed Mr. Kashkari late enough in the game that probably helped him and made some fence-sitting potential Donnelly voters to switch and vote for the moderate Mr. Kashkari.
In the end, Mr. Kashkari did win the California Republican gubernatorial nomination in the open primary by finishing with 20% of the vote over Mr. Donnelly's 15%. That is good enough for second place in the open primary and he earned the right to fight with Gov. Brown in November.
That does not sound like much but if you limit the vote both men had among those who voted for a Republican candidate, both have decent numbers.
As of this writing, 1,467,947 voted Republican in the open primary. In and of itself it is a good number as not many more voted Democrat in the open primary. Of that number, Mr. Kashkari got 48% of the vote and Mr. Donnelly got 37%. The remaining 15% was scattered among four other candidates including a convicted sex-offender. That is another post in and of itself.
While I will end up voting for Mr. Kashkari in November, there could be some hard feelings that he needs to heal before then especially among conservatives and Donnelly supporters.
Look, I would vote for either of my two dogs over Gov. Brown. While I may not be Mr. Kashkari's most important backer, he will be a marginal improvement over Gov. Brown.
But I was able to vote for Tim Donnelly in the primary this past Tuesday because I do believe that the conservative wing of the party deserves to be heard and I helped that cause.