Give Neel Kashkari credit: He's thinking big and telling people his thoughts.
The Republican has little chance of beating Gov. Jerry Brown and being elected governor. But don't tell him. He's campaigning hard and talking to anyone who will listen.
And he's sketching out a substantive plan, just in case, that addresses what polls show is Californians' No. 1 priority: Improving the state's economy and creating more jobs.
There are plenty of holes to poke at in the former U.S. Treasury official's 10-point "jobs plan" unveiled Tuesday. But it's out there. Where is Brown's? Don't bother looking.
Kashkari's No. 1 personal priority right now is gaining attention and getting known. Few are aware that he's trying to challenge the popular Democratic governor's bid for a record fourth term.
If there's a GOP establishment favorite, it is Kashkari, 40. He's a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from India, an investment banker and onetime federal bailout czar.
He's a pro-business fiscal conservative. But he also is a social moderate who doesn't think the government should interfere with same-sex couples desiring to merry or women seeking an abortion. And he believes there should be a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally.
One other thing, he says. He's a gun owner. But if you're obsessed with firearms and believe everyone has a right to arm himself to the teeth, better choose another candidate — like tea-party favorite Tim Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman and outspoken all-purpose conservative.
Right now, Donnelly is running ahead of Kashkari in the little-noticed race for second in the June open primary. The top two finishers will face each other in the November runoff.
A poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California shows Brown favored by 47 percent of likely voters, followed far back by Donnelly at 10 percent. Kashkari is tied at 2 percent — that's not a typo — with the virtually invisible Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount. And 36 percent say they don't know whom to support.