Gubernatorial candidate goes homeless to prove point
July 31st, 2014
11:16 AM ET
2 months ago

Gubernatorial candidate goes homeless to prove point

(CNN) - Down by double digits in the most recent polling, California's Republican gubernatorial challenger took his campaign to the streets.

Neel Kashkari announced Thursday that he recently spent a week living as a homeless person in Fresno, California, to highlight poverty in the Golden State. Kashkari's campaign released a 10-minute long video that chronicles the candidate's week long unsuccessful search for a job.

The video shows Kashkari riding to Fresno on a bus on July 21, with what they say was just $40 in his pocket.

"This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. I came to Fresno expecting to be able to find a job, and take care of myself. But it's been a week and I've found nothing. I've run out of money and had to turn to the homeless shelter for food," said Kashkari, in the video, which shows him sleeping on public benches and being turned down as he searched for a job.

"While the politicians who run California pat themselves on the back and claim a 'California Comeback,' they willfully ignore millions of our neighbors who are living in poverty," Kashkari said in a statement. "California's most vulnerable citizens deserve leaders who will fight for them – and as Governor I intend to do just that."

Public opinion surveys indicate Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is in the driver's seat as he campaigns this year for an unprecedented fourth term. Brown had a 20-point lead over Kashkari in a Field Poll conducted in June and a 19-point lead in a Public Policy Institute of California survey conducted this month. Brown also appears to have a huge campaign cash advantage, with more than $22 million in the bank.

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Brown campaign strategist Dan Newman told CNN that he's "puzzled trying to reconcile the bizarre stunt with his cynical refusal to help struggling homeowners when he had the chance, as well as his opposition to the minimum wage and unemployment benefits."

Newman also said he's "wondering how authentic an experience this is when (Kashkari's) followed by a paid camera crew before returning to his $10 million beach house."

Why Kashkari's running for governor

Kashkari, 41, is a former Bush administration treasury official, fund manager and investment banker. He beat out GOP state Rep. Tim Donnelly for second place earlier this month in California's gubernatorial primary.

The Golden State holds "open" or "jungle" primaries, in which all candidates compete in a single contest and the first and second place finishers, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election.

The 76-year old Brown was first elected California governor in 1974 and re-elected in 1978. He also served as Oakland mayor from 1998-2006, California attorney general from 2006-2010, and was elected governor again four years ago. He also made bids for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, 1980 and 1992, but earlier this year ruled out a fourth run for the White House in 2016.


Filed under: 2014 • California • Jerry Brown • Neel Kashkari
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Brown campaign strategist Dan Newman told CNN that he's "puzzled trying to reconcile the bizarre stunt with his cynical refusal to help struggling homeowners when he had the chance, as well as his opposition to the minimum wage and unemployment benefits."
    ---------------------
    They should stop trying to figure it out, step back, and take a hard critical look by thinking outside the box, outside themselves. Look at it from different perspective. Greed. They've forgotten that everything makes no sense until you remember that greed prevails.

    It's real simple. They must pander to one crowd in order to get elected, and then they must serve another far more elite crowd after they get elected. See how plain and simple it is once you look at the big picture?

    July 31, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. excuse my rant

    Total stunt. If this guy is unemployed it is by choice. He has a pretty impressive resume in both the public and private sectors in multiple parts of the country.

    And even if he truly can't find a job, he used to be an engineer in the private sector, a contractor for NASA, worked for Goldman Sachs, worked in the Treasury Department for George W Bush, and was a managing director for an investment firm after that. If he has no money in the bank, then he's been making some poor financial decisions. And how would that be a plus for being a Governor?

    July 31, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. smith1

    Brown has always been a good bet for California

    July 31, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    --so you want me to believe this bs. Ha!!!

    July 31, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Dude it's your party that could care less about the poor, the homeless and the less fortunate. They say things like, It's your own fault if you're not rich. If you need money for college, get a loan from your parents. These are just a few of the insensitive comments from the right wing.

    You're not fooling anyone pretending to care about the poor. Leave it up to them and within a few years we'll be living the real life Hunger Games.

    July 31, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    There is no hope for CA. That became painfully clear, when brown was again elected there, after bankrupting the state, previously.

    When people are that stupid........there is no way to save them.

    July 31, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. smith

    Lame attempt by Kashkari to appeal to low income voters.

    July 31, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. a little sad

    Um – how many people can find a job in a week?

    (Actually, I found a job in a day, but that was because I was already onsite as a consultant when the big 4 firm closed my office and laid off 15 of us. We just cut out the middleman and I got a doulble in salary while they got their costs cut 75%)

    But that's unusual – most employers would not even finish checking your references in a week.

    July 31, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    "This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. I came to Fresno expecting to be able to find a job, and take care of myself. But it's been a week and I've found nothing. I've run out of money and had to turn to the homeless shelter for food," said Kashkari, in the video.
    -------------------------
    He went in with the honest but delusional idea that it's easy and I can prove it. He's lucky that a shelter took him in. Do you think that it might occur to him that it would be a very good idea to make donations to the places that helped him out?

    July 31, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    smith

    Lame attempt by Kashkari to appeal to low income voters.
    =======================================================
    No, he wasn't. He was trying to pander to the right wing's base. It was a delusional attempt to reinforce the "makers and takers" argument. He had wanted to show "takers" how easy it is to get a job if they simply got up off their duffs and went job hunting. He didn't fail. He SUCCEEDED in demonstrating just how wrong conservatives are about the challenges that everyday people face.

    I'm surprised that he had the guts to release the video, but I suppose that word of his experience would have come to light sooner or later, anyway.

    July 31, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. yerkiddinright

    Kashkari's entire campaign is a gimmick so this fits his brand very well. Perhaps he's portraying a person who lost their home due to predatory lending practices to add some irony to the role.

    July 31, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. JAB

    Since when do republicans highlight poverty?

    July 31, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. Thomas

    Kashkari, 41, is a former Bush administration treasury official, fund manager and investment banker.
    I came to Fresno looking for a job .
    I've run out of money and had to turn to the homeless shelter for food," said Kashkari, in the video, which shows him sleeping on public benches and being turned down as he searched for a job.

    (Kashkari's) followed by a paid camera crew before returning to his $10 million beach house."

    July 31, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. mainenavvet

    California has a colossal poverty rate, yet it encourages illegal immigration. Epic social fail.

    July 31, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Howard

    Typical republican. Hopes to end Medicaid and Social Security and minimum wage but pretends to be a man of the people.

    July 31, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. 1776usa2016

    Yeah, watch out for GOP "pretending we care" types.

    Go Jerry !!

    .

    July 31, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. mainenavvet

    California has a colossal poverty rate, yet it encourages illegal immigration and amnesty for illegals. Talk about a real War on working class Americans.

    July 31, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Maybe he could turn his $10 million dollar beach house into a homeless center , maybe call up Mitt Romney and suggest he do the same .

    They both could help homeless veterans in San Diego , show there appreciation since neither of them served in the military , too busy investing in the future maybe .

    Big ego corporate money , they always have such easy solutions that only benefit there cronies .

    July 31, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. Dean

    A shining example of Obama's economic policies in action.

    July 31, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. dano

    Full disclosure: I'm very sceptical by nature. I instantly wondered how someone can "go homeless" with a camera crew. I've seen the video but the countless minutes/hours of unused footage, I'll imagine that the cameras were not omnipresent and actually allowed Neil some degree of anonymity. Even so, it seems more of a stunt than a statement, and that is disappointing. If his issue is poverty, I contend that homelessness is not the crux of the matter, the working poor bear the brunt. Would it have been more illustrative to spent a week living in an impoverished working class home? Would it matter? This whole "fight for you" rhetoric is just that. Rhetoric. From both parties. I believe his record of opposition to increasing the minimum wage and other initiatives speak much louder. He says his plan is to make changes so businesses can thrive. We want citizens to thrive too. Neel offers nothing new, just the same deregulation mantra and frack baby, frack.

    July 31, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. Joe

    Is it a stunt? Yes, but it is an effective stunt for a man without the capital of Gov Brown who IMO is running this state right into the ground. I applaud this man and his "Stunt", if he runs I WILL vote for him.

    July 31, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. yogi

    Rick McDaniel
    There is no hope for CA. That became painfully clear, when brown was again elected there, after bankrupting the state, previously.

    When people are that stupid........there is no way to save them.
    --------------------------
    For once I agree with you, your posts are perfectly described by your last sentence.
    You probably do not live in CA, otherwise you would know better what is happening here, and last but not least, when you allow caps in your name why not do the same for Governor Brown?

    July 31, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. iceload

    Makes you wonder what happened to those repub business skills. Guess they don't matter if you don't have the money and connections to start.

    July 31, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Joe

    Is it a stunt? Yes, but it is an effective stunt for a man without the capital of Gov Brown who IMO is running this state right into the ground. I applaud this man and his "Stunt", if he runs I WILL vote for him.
    -------------------------–
    The CA state budget is now running a surplus, and 20% of new jobs created nationwide last year were created in CA.

    July 31, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. Lizzie

    He trying to make a point, I'm sure democrats or liberals would not be caught dead, hobnobbing with the homeless.

    July 31, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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