The ad and the contribution come as Kashkari tries to make up ground on Donnelly in the final month of the campaign. Donnelly, a tea party favorite and assemblyman from Twin Peaks, leads Kashkari by a wide margin in early polls, but he lacks resources for traditional advertising.
Kashkari's fundraising, while more robust than Donnelly's, fell off after a fast start. His $500,000 contribution will increase the total amount he has reported raising to about $2.3 million. Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. Treasury Department official, has put his net worth at less than $5 million.
Kashkari's campaign said the ad released Monday will air statewide on cable and broadcast television, but it declined to disclose the size of the ad buy or say in what markets it will play.
The 30-second ad features Kashkari chopping wood and a toy train engine, a reference to his opposition to California's $68 billion high-speed rail project.
"As governor I'll cut taxes, move people from welfare to work and take an ax to wasteful spending," he says in the ad. "First up? Jerry Brown's crazy train."
Brown, a third-term Democrat, is widely expected to finish first in the June primary election. The race between Kashkari and Donnelly is for second place, to advance to a runoff against Brown in the fall.
PHOTO: Neel Kashkari prepares for an interview at KFBK radio in Sacramento on Feb. 19, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders