To win last night's debate, Neel Kashkari needed to score a knockout. All the Governor Jerry Brown needed to do was to avoid anything extravagantly silly, like coming out in support of Six Californias, Rand Paul for President, or anything Hitler-related. Kashkari didn't. Brown didn't. So Jerry won.
Last night's over-caffeinated gubernatorial debate ended up a draw—which is basically a big win for Governor Jerry Brown. The three-term incumbent, who is seeking an unprecedented fourth term, enjoys a commanding lead in public opinion polls and party registration in California, meaning that Kashkari needed a big win to alter the dynamics of the race.
That didn't happen.
What did happen: Kashkari repeatedly criticized the governor's support for a high speed rail linking the Bay Area with Southern California, calling it a "vanity project" and saying "If I'm governor, it's not going to happen." He also disagreed with the Governor's climate change policies and appeal of a recent court decision eliminating teacher tenure in public schools. And Brown pointed to California's fiscal success of late, pointing out that the state government "was $27 billion in the red [and] is now in a solid surplus."
The tight camera angles and very short answer time limits did no favors to either men, with Kashkari looking fidgety and Brown coming off as strident at several points. There was a clear sense of personal antipathy between the two, who had never met in person.
The debate is likely to be the only one during this year's governor's election.