Neel Kashkari is the Republican candidate for governor because of the efforts of a mild mannered, bow-tied Stanford University physicist named Charles Munger Jr. Munger is also responsible for the defeat and retirement of several powerful California members of Congress, and he is the major funding source keeping the California Republican Party afloat. Not bad for a guy almost no one has ever heard of.
Munger has become the major funding source for a moribund and nearly broke state GOP, investing some $2 million in favored candidates this spring alone. The obviously wealthy physicist did not make this money as a Stanford professor, but through the very good luck of the being the son of Charles Munger Sr., senior partner of Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway. The 90-year-old senior Munger ranks number 1,432 on the Forbes list of world billionaires.
A month out from the June primary, Neel Kashkari was running at a dismal two percent in the polls, one poll even had him trailing a convicted sex offender. Republican voices around the country began warning that if Assemblyman Tim Donnelly with his harsh rhetoric on immigrants were the GOP candidate for governor he would drag down the ticket in November. But what to do? Most Republican voters knew nothing about Kashkari and Donnelly was leading in the polls.
To the rescue came Charles Munger. He paid for “An Urgent Warning from Gov. Pete Wilson about Candidate Tim Donnelly,” a tough attack on Donnelly for being on probation and his extreme statements that also boosted Kashkari as “the right choice to take on Jerry Brown.” The mailer did the trick and Kashkari topped Donnelly in the primary. Without Munger’s last minute funding of this piece, it is doubtful Kashkari would have won.
This June Munger began what is probably a long process to reshape the state GOP by supporting with major independent expenditures centrist candidates for the legislature in the top two primary.