The gathering opened on a sour note Friday, when the evening's keynote speaker, state controller candidate Ashley Swearengin, told reporters she was still mulling whether to vote for Kashkari or Brown. "I'm looking at the two candidates like other Californians are," she said.
And Pete Peterson, the Republican running for secretary of state, said in an interview that he was not endorsing Kashkari — or anyone else on the statewide ballot — and did not plan to vote a straight party ticket.
The extraordinary display of disunity led Ron Nehring, a former state Republican chairman and underdog candidate for lieutenant governor, to vent his fury in a profanity-tinged email to party brass just before midnight Friday, after news organizations began reporting the dust-up.
"This does NOT help the party, and it distracts from the efforts made to convey a positive theme," Nehring wrote. "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.David Siders reports at The Sacramento Bee about the reaction of state party chair Jim Brulte:
Brulte said he hadn’t reviewed media coverage of the convention but that “I will trust Ron that our story line is getting stepped on...and that is tragic.”
Harmeet Dhillon, the party’s vice chair, responded that she agreed with Brulte.
“I also fully support our ticket and don’t think it is cool of any candidate to distance themselves from it,” she wrote. “I have said nothing but good things about all of them in the media.”
She went on, “We have many media opportunities today. I hope everyone can be a team player and not complain about each other, on or off the record. Our party deserves better.”
Aaron McLear, a Kashkari adviser, responded to the party leaders in an email, saying Kashkari “will continue to say nice things about everyone, and I’ll continue to be baffled by the Mayor’s (Swearengin’s) strategy. As Ron notes, it is absolutely eclipsing whatever message she and the CRP (were) hoping to deliver this weekend.”
Brulte responded: “Felony stupid.”