California Republicans squabbled this past weekend over their gubernatorial candidate’s attempt to simulate life as a homeless person, LA Weekly reported.
The dispute between Neel Kashkari and the party’s nominee for state controller, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, allegedly dates back to this past July, when Kashkari spent a week living in Fresno as a homeless person while trying to find a job. At one point, he is shown sleeping on a bench near City Hall.
“I came here to Fresno expecting to be able to find a job and take care of myself,” Kashkari said in a video documenting his experiences. “But it’s been a week, and I’ve found nothing.”
LA Weekly reported that at the time of the video’s release, Kashkari’s campaign was $164,000 in debt. Real Clear Politics currently shows Kashkari trailing incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown (D) by 18 percentage points.
Swearengin has refused to endorse Kashkari since the video’s release. The Sacramento Bee reported that she did not discount the possibility of endorsing Brown (D) during the party’s convention in Los Angeles over the weekend.
She also refused to say whether Kashkari had asked to meet with her during the event, which runs counter to a claim from Kashkari’s campaign saying that he did. The dispute reportedly led to angry emails between party officials.
“I doubt Ashley was given the prominence of speaking Friday night (the ONLY statewide candidate to be given a speaking role other than Sunday morning … as a platform to generate news by blowing off others on the statewide ticket,” lieutenant governor candidate Ron Nehring said in a message to party chair Jim Brulte.
Nehring also complained that coverage of the event was focusing on “that of Ashley Swearengin distancing herself from Neel.”
Brulte reportedly said in response that it was not his “style” to “yell and scream and rant and rave and tell everybody let’s try to behave,” and that he had “no ability to enforce my will anyway.”
An advisor for Kashkari’s campaign, Aaron McLear, responded to both men, saying Kashkari was “baffled” by Swearengin’s distancing herself from Kashkari, but that he would continue to say “nice things” about all of the party’s candidates.
“As Ron notes, it is absolutely eclipsing whatever message she and the CRP (were) hoping to deliver this weekend,” McLear wrote, prompting Brulte to call Swearengin’s actions “Felony stupid.”