Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, May. 11, 2014 – 12:00 am

They are not likely to win this year, but the California Republican Party has several candidates for statewide office who are lighting the way to a potential GOP revival down the road.

Neel Kashkari, Pete Peterson and Ashley Swearengin are relatively young, accomplished, articulate and moderate. They understand that hard-right bombast doesn’t work in a state in which less than 30 percent of voters call themselves Republicans and moderate independents hold the balance of voting power.

They shun the anti-everything (immigrant, abortion rights, taxes) positions that many Republicans reflexively adopt, but that those independents reject, and embrace the pro-business, make-government-work-better attitudes that have worked for previous Republican winners.

Peterson, executive director of Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, is running for secretary of state, while Swearengin, mayor of Fresno, wants to become state controller, and both are likely to survive the top-two primary and make the November runoff.

Kashkari, who ran the federal government’s TARP bank bailout program, is locked in a fierce primary duel with Tim Donnelly, a very conservative state assemblyman, for the right to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown.

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