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Neel Kashkari to run for California governor

Washington, Jan 22 (IANS) Former Indian-American US Treasury official Neel Kashkari, architect of the bank bailout during the 2008 financial crisis, plans to run for governor of California with a pledge to create jobs and improve public schools.

“Today, the gift of a good education and the opportunity it creates are out of reach for millions of struggling Californians,” he said in a keynote speech Tuesday at the 2014 Sacramento Business Review at California State University, Sacramento.

“That’s why I’m running for governor: To create jobs and give kids a quality education. Jobs and education. That’s it. That’s my platform,” said Kashkari, 40, a Republican, according to his website.

But unseating Democratic Governor Jerry Brown Brown, “a popular Democratic incumbent who is widely expected to run for re-election, will be an uphill battle for Kashkari, a political novice,” according San Jose Mercury News

Right now, Kashkari’s only Republican challenger is California assembly memmber, Tim Donnelly, a tea party favourite and staunch social conservative.

“In the coming weeks, Kashkari’s favourability among the state’s Republican and independent voters will be tested, as will his ability to raise enough money to be competitive against Brown, who has already amassed a campaign war chest of $17 million,” Mercury News said.

Kashkari, a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from India 50 years ago, was appointed to the Department of Treasury in 2006 by then Republican President George W. Bush.

“When the financial crisis erupted, he worked to bring together lawmakers from both parties to write and pass landmark legislation to prevent widespread economic collapse,” his website claimed.

“The programme he implemented not only has recouped all the money spent, but also has made a $13 billion profit for taxpayers to date,” it said.

“If we could get Republicans and Democrats to work together in Washington, D.C., then I know we can get them to work together in Sacramento,” Kashkari said citing his role in the bank bailout .

“If we could break the back of the worst economic crisis our country has faced in 80 years, then I know we can break the back of the crisis that is destroying opportunity for California families and kids,” he said.

Kashkari also named new members of his campaign team, which includes political consultants who advised Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Kashkari grew up in a middle-class household outside of Akron, Ohio. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at the University of Illinois, he moved to California in 1998 to work as a design engineer at TRW in Redondo Beach.

He later earned his master’s of business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and returned to California to help Silicon Valley entrepreneurs raise capital to grow their companies and create jobs.

Kashkari, a multimillionaire who lives in Laguna Beach in Orange County, previously worked for Goldman Sachs.

Last year, Kashkari quit his job as an investment banking executive and began travelling across the state and mulling his run for governor, meeting with potential donors, community organizations and regular Californians, according to Mercury News.

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