Capitol Alert

Ron Nehring’s quest for debate with Newsom darkens

Ron Nehring, former head of the California GOP and candidate for lieutenant governor, is resorting to some unorthodox overtures after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom rebuffed efforts to coordinate a debate.

Nehring, in only-somewhat tongue-in-cheek remarks Monday, said he’s even willing to accept a debate moderated by liberal MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz. If the left-leaning cable channel can’t accommodate the request ahead of the Nov. 4 election, Nehring said in a statement, then he could be talked into appearing on Russian government-funded RT or North Korea’s KCNA, “although with that last one we can't find a bureau for them in the United States.”

Newsom’s campaign is exceedingly unlikely to oblige. Spokesman Sean Clegg said flatly that he doesn’t anticipate the incumbent participating in any debates. In an email, Clegg cited Nehring’s recent salty email to state party leaders in which he bemoaned the disunity among GOP statewide candidates.

“Ron Nehring, who just attacked his own GOP members in a profanity-laced tirade, is out-of-control, reckless, desperate, and we have no intention of promoting him,” Clegg said.

Elsewhere on the statewide ticket, Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to sit for one debate with Republican rival Neel Kashkari while the candidates for secretary of state, Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson, have mixed it up in a couple of different venues.

Nehring said he isn’t giving up, and likened Newsom to a schoolchild.

“He's like that kid we all knew in high school who talks a big game at lunch but is afraid of taking exams because he doesn't go to class, he doesn't do the homework, he doesn't know the material and deep down he knows he's not ready to move up,” he said.