The only debate in California’s 2014 governor’s race is just hours away, as Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown gets set to face his Republican challenger, Neel Kashkari. It could be Kashkari’s best chance to narrow Brown’s lead in polls.
The governor enters the debate sitting pretty. A new Field Poll out Thursday morning shows Brown with a 50 percent to 34 percent lead among likely voters. Nearly 60 percent approve of the governor’s job performance. And more than 40 percent don’t know Kashkari well enough to like him or dislike him.
Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo says Kashkari needs to make Californians view Brown more negatively. “Right now, the voters have a relatively positive view – quite positive view, actually – of the incumbent. They still haven’t heard that much about Kashkari, the challenger. So he needs to give voters a reason to either vote for him or to vote against Brown,” DiCamillo says.
Yet Kashkari’s campaign had less than $200,000 on hand at the end of June and has raised less than a million dollars since then. Brown has raised more than $20 million.
That makes Thursday night’s debate crucial for Kashkari: It may be his best opportunity to introduce himself to voters and go after the governor.
Perhaps that’s why Brown only agreed to a single debate – two months before Election Day, and on Opening Night of the National Football League.