SAN JOSE - Lagging in the governor's race with only 2 percent support, according to a new Field Poll, Republican Neel Kashkari said Wednesday that he can make up ground on GOP rival Tim Donnelly with paid advertising closer to the June primary election.
"We have a very specific plan that we've had now for two months, that as we get closer to the date when absentee ballots drop, that's when we're going to start our mail programs and whatnot," Kashkari told reporters after speaking at a luncheon hosted by The Rotary Club of San Jose. "And so we feel like, you know, we're where we expected to be."
Kashkari said he plans to run television ads "in a targeted way," though he said those ads will not run statewide. Asked if he would advertise on network or cable TV, he said, "I'll reserve judgment on that."
Kashkari's remarks come the same day a Field Poll put him at third among Republicans running for governor, far behind Donnelly, who polled at 17 percent among likely voters, and 1 percentage point behind Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount.
The Republicans all remain far behind Gov. Jerry Brown, whose high public approval rating and massive fundraising advantage make him the favorite in the race.
Kashkari, who has largely been dismissive of Donnelly in public appearances, said Wednesday that the June primary will be a "hard fight."
"Winning as a Republican in California is going to be very hard, not impossible," he said. "There are too many examples around the country of very powerful incumbents losing. I have to get through a primary ... which itself is, you know, a hard fight to have."
Kashkari is by far the best-funded Republican in the race, reporting last month that he had more than $900,000 on hand. Donnelly held less than $11,000.
Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, said "the most important numbers" in the Field Poll are the percentage of people who don't know who the Republican candidates are. Fifty percent of likely voters still have no opinion of Donnelly and 64 percent have no opinion of Kashkari, according to the poll.
"To me, I think that it's still a wide open field, and it's going to come down to who has the resources to reach voters," he said, "and I believe that we're going to have a substantial resource advantage."
PHOTO: Republican Neel Kashkari talks to reporters at an event in San Jose on April 9, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders