Maeve Reston
June 4, 2014

Neel Kashkari launched his general election campaign Wednesday by charging that California Gov. Jerry Brown had failed the middle class, and insisting that he could win his uphill race by expanding the appeal of the Republican Party — creating “the biggest tent you’ve ever seen in your life.”

Though Brown has brought the state back from a deficit to a surplus, Kashkari argued that California has been in steep decline since the end of Brown’s first run as governor in the 1980s. At a news conference Wednesday, he repeatedly noted that California has fallen to near the bottom among the 50 states in measures such as job opportunities and the level of education of its workforce.

“In 1980, we were right around the middle — right around 25th for jobs of the 50 states,” Kashkari said at his event in a darkened movie theater in Corona del Mar. “Today we are 47th for jobs. And in 1980 we were right around 25th for poverty. Today California is No. 1 in poverty. Jerry Brown calls this a comeback. Jerry Brown’s legacy is the destruction of the middle class of California.”

“Gov. Brown, we are going to make you answer for our lack of jobs,” Kashkari continued. “We are going to make you answer for our failing schools, and, Gov. Brown, we are going to make you answer for our record poverty.”

Brown was out of office from 1982 until 2010, a period in which many of the declines mentioned by Kashkari occurred. Republicans held the governor’s office for 23 of the 28 years.

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