Neel Kashkari eclipsed rival Republican Tim Donnelly in the governor’s race late Tuesday, while Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown was poised to finish first by an enormous margin.
Kashkari, a moderate Republican, was ahead of the tea party-backed Donnelly 18 percent to 15 percent when Donnelly conceded the race and called Kashkari to congratulate him. Neither Republican came close to touching Brown, who led all challengers with 55 percent of the vote. He will face Kashkari in the fall.
The ballot counting ended one of the lowest-profile gubernatorial primary elections in recent California history. Brown, a popular third-term governor, was so heavily favored he barely campaigned, and neither Republican is expected to unseat him in November.
Yet the race between Donnelly and Kashkari was viewed by many Republicans as a significant measure of the ideological direction of the GOP in California. Donnelly, the Legislature’s most outspoken gun rights advocate and opponent of illegal immigration, rallied conservative activists, while members of the party’s political and professional classes, desperate to improve the GOP’s standing with minorities and young voters, coalesced around Kashkari, a more moderate politician.
Kashkari said in a prepared statement late Tuesday that he admired Donnelly for his “hard work and determination.”