Radio show hosts say Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari will debate

It appeared unlikely as little as a month ago that Republican rivals Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari would debate before the June primary election.

But conservative talk radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou said Tuesday that it will happen.

Kobylt and Chiampou, of KFI-AM’s “John and Ken” show in Los Angeles, said they will host Kashkari and Donnelly at a gubernatorial debate in Anaheim on May 15. Kashkari confirmed he will attend, while Donnelly’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The debate’s announcement comes after Donnelly challenged Kashkari to an “old-fashioned debate” at a California Republican Party convention in March, but the invitation was dismissed by Kashkari and party leaders.

When Kashkari was asked on the air Tuesday if he was coming to KFI-AM’s debate, he said he was “looking forward to it” and that “it’ll be a lot of fun.” The former U.S. Treasury Department official lags behind Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, in public opinion polls.

The primary election is a top-two race, and the radio hosts said Gov. Jerry Brown, the Democratic incumbent, has been invited to attend. Brown is widely expected to finish far ahead of all Republicans in the race.

“Jerry Brown is invited,” one of the hosts said. “He can come, and we’ll bring ointments to rub on his head.”

Donnelly, a tea party favorite, and Kashkari, a more moderate Republican, disagree on any number of issues, and in interviews Tuesday they split sharply on film tax credits, a major concern to Southern California’s movie industry.

Asked by The Sacramento Bee’s Editorial Board about proposals to give more tax credits to production companies, Kashkari said he prefers tax and economic policies that are not industry-specific.

“I don’t like the idea of Hollywood leaving California, but I know that other states are subsidizing movies now, up to 30 percent of the cost of a movie, which is silly economic policy,” Kashkari told the Editorial Board.

Kashkari said he would focus on improving the state’s overall economy and that, “If other states or other countries are going to do silly things, then let them do silly things.”

Donnelly is a proponent of film tax credits, saying he is concerned about industry jobs leaving California.

“This is really an iconic battle,” Donnelly said. “This is a battle for what California stands for.”

He joked about another, more personal reason he’d like to keep movie production in the Golden State.

“Let’s say there’s some small, tiny chance that I don’t win the governorship,” he said. “As I’ve told my wife … I’m either going to have a new job or I’m going to be looking for one, right? Those are my two choices. Well, given all the travel I’ve done to the 58 counties – and I’ve taken just in the last couple of months 5,000 photos on my iPhone – I could be one of those guys who helps you find a set for a movie, which I’ve always been fascinated by.”

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