Capitol Alert

Kevin McCarthy ribs Jerry Brown, backs Kashkari

After two statewide Republican candidates refused to commit to their gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield on Saturday left little doubt who he’s voting for in November.

“When I sit back and look at ‘Moonbean’ back as governor,” McCarthy said of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s return to Sacramento, “when I look at the challenges in California from the water, economics, people continue to leave because he creates a structure of tax that punishes you for job creation. And he wants to spend all of our money on some pipe dream of a crazy train?

“So if you ask me who I am voting for, I am voting for Neel,” he told a dinner audience at the party’s biannual convention in Los Angeles.

McCarthy’s unequivocal support for the California GOP’s standard-bearer follows some top-of-the-ticket drama. On Friday, Republican Peter Peterson, who is running for secretary of state, refused to say who he was backing for governor. Later that evening, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, the party’s candidate for state controller, remained reluctant to discuss Kashkari’s candidacy.

Swearengin said after her own speech that she was still studying Brown and Kashkari.

“We still have not had a chance to meet,” she said of the latter candidate. “So I’ve been very focused on my race and getting the word out to voters around the state that I think California needs some independence when it comes to watching the treasury.”

McCarthy, the first majority leader from California to hold his post, said in his speech that for all of the dysfunction among the state’s current crop of leaders, there is no other place with more natural beauty and promise.

“We just got a screwed up governor and system ...” But, he said in closing, “I think the climate is right. I think the opportunities are there.”