- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari said Monday that he has pumped $500,000 of his own money into his campaign and has launched his first television ad as his campaign struggles just four weeks ahead of the June primary.

The commercial, which is airing statewide, shows the former U.S. Treasury official chopping wood on property he owns near Truckee. He says career politicians don’t know how the value of a dollar.

“Career politicians are clueless about earning a dollar. All they know is how to spend yours,” Kashkari says in the 30-second spot. “I’m not a politician, so I actually understand hard work.”

In theatrics reminiscent of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kashkari takes an ax to a miniature train, saying the first thing he would do as governor is ax the high-speed rail project backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which he calls the “crazy train.”

Kashkari has struggled to pull ahead of state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a gun-rights activist from San Bernardino County who has traveled the state in a patriotic-themed recreational vehicle. The top two vote-getters in the June 3 primary will advance to the general election, and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to be among them.

Donnelly has come in second in recent public opinion polls but has struggled to raise money. He has brought in about $335,000 since last year and recently appealed to donors for free office space.

Kashkari has raised about $1.7 million since he announced his candidacy in January. His total will rise to more than $2.2 million once he adds his $500,000 personal contribution.

The former Goldman Sachs investment banker, who is best known for helping oversee the federal bank bailout, has previously pegged his net worth at less than $5 million. He previously said he was unlikely to contribute financially to his campaign because he did not think he had enough money to make a real difference.

“That was months ago, and certainly the state of the race is different than we anticipated and that amount could make a difference,” said his spokesman, Aaron McLear. “He just wants to do everything within his power to win.”

Kashkari’s campaign said the commercial will air statewide on standard broadcast and cable channels starting Monday but did not say how frequently. He is the first gubernatorial candidate to air broadcast advertising this year.

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