At first, it seemed like a daring move for Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari to spend a week as a homeless person in Fresno. The campaign stunt generated tons of free publicity — he was likely the only homeless person ever invited to share his experiences on a CNBC panel — allowing him to slam Gov. Jerry Brown's “California Comeback.”
But in recent weeks, the shine has worn off. Evidently, the mayor of Fresno is still irked about the whole thing. That would be a minor inconvenience, were the mayor, Ashley Swearengin, not also the Republican nominee for state controller. In a striking show of Republican disunity, Swearengin has refused to endorse Kashkari. At the party convention over the weekend, she continued to refuse to endorse him, which led to an open conflagration among party elders.
Maybe Kashkari should have camped out on L.A.'s Skid Row?
In emails obtained by the Sacramento Bee, Ron Nehring, a former party chair and the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, complained about Swearengin's snub:
“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,” he wrote. “This does NOT help the party, and it distracts from the efforts made to convey a positive theme. The coverage is not of a party expanding its reach. It’s about a party that isn’t unified because (its) candidates can’t get it together and get on the same page.”
State chairman Jim Brulte then chimed in, calling Swearengin's decision “felony stupid.”
That may be true, but at least Swearengin isn't venting about it in emails that get quickly forwarded to the Sacramento Bee.
Asked for comment, Kashkari spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner said, “Neel strongly supports Chairman Nehring and Chairman Brulte in their efforts to help Republican candidates across the state.”