Capitol Alert

Swearengin, Kashkari talk on the radio Friday

Several weeks after she pointedly left open the possibility of voting for his Democratic rival, Republican controller candidate Ashley Swearengin on Friday called in to a talk radio show hosted by GOP gubernatorial nominee Neel Kashkari.

Kashkari was filling in on KCBQ’s Mark Larson Show and took calls from several Republican politicians, including Ron Nehring, who is running against Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Assembly Republican Leader-elect Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto.

Then Swearengin, the Fresno mayor, was on the line with Kashkari, the first time the two had spoken. Kashkari praised Swearengin as being “heads and shoulders” above her Democratic opponent, Board of Equalization member Betty Yee.

“I’m really excited about your race, excited about what you’ve done in Fresno, and what you’re going to do as controller,” Kashkari told Swearengin near the end of the several-minute call.

Notably not discussed were Swearengin’s Aug. 26 comments at the Sacramento Press Club, in which she said she was still “evaluating the candidates” for governor, and the state’s high-speed rail project, which Swearengin supports and which Kashkari only minutes earlier had mocked as the “crazy train” backed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

There also was no talk of Kashkari’s undercover visit to Fresno, in which he posed as a homeless man trying to get a job, a move that annoyed Fresno leaders who tout the city’s recovery from recession.

The closest Swearengin and Kashkari came to disagreeing was after Swearengin said the state faces “a very, very, very long path to financial health in California.” Kashkari, though, pointed to Wisconsin after Republican Scott Walker became governor of that state.

“You can turn things pretty quickly if you’ve got the right people making moves in the right direction,” he said.

“I think that’s an excellent point,” Swearengin answered.

The conversation could continue off-the-air at this weekend’s state Republican convention, which both Kashkari and Swearengin will attend.