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donnellypunjabi.jpgYUBA CITY - California is so large a state its gubernatorial campaigns are typically waged not door to door, but in television and radio ads, direct mail and, to a growing extent, online.

But tradition calls for candidates to wade into shopping malls, festivals and fairs in the final days of a campaign. So on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, Tim Donnelly put on his National Rifle Association hat and distributed literature at the Punjabi American Festival in Yuba City, while Neel Kashkari pet a baby goat and met with Republicans at the Sacramento County Fair.

Within hours they would be heading in opposite directions, Kashkari driving north to the festival Donnelly was attending and Donnelly considering a stop further south, in Bakersfield.

Just more than a week before the June 3 primary election, the two Republicans are locked in a close race for second place and a spot in the November runoff election against Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. The contest has drawn little outside money or interest, largely because neither Republican is expected to unseat Brown.

At the Punjabi American Festival, organizers were disinterested in controversy around comments Donnelly has made linking Kashkari, who is Hindu and of Indian heritage, to Islamic law. Interest in the candidates themselves was not exactly brimming over, either.

Tej Maan, a local councilman and one of the festival's organizers, pointed to U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who was waiting behind a stage. The presence of the federal lawmaker, Maan said, was "much bigger than the two governor candidates," and even that wasn't what the crowd came to see.

"Our focus is right in front of you, the youth," he said, as a group of youngsters began a traditional dance.

PHOTO: Tim Donnelly campaigns at the Punjabi American Festival in Yuba City on May 25, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders


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