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POLITICS: Campaigns

GOP candidate: Brown oversaw middle class downfall

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari on Thursday blamed Gov. Jerry Brown for what he sees as California's decline over the past three decades, saying poverty and unemployment have climbed during the time that Brown was a member of the state's political elite.

In some of his most aggressive remarks to date about the Democratic incumbent, Kashkari said Brown's political legacy is "the destruction of the middle class of California."

Citing U.S. Census figures from 1980, when Brown was last governor, Kashkari said the state's poverty and unemployment rates have climbed precipitously since then, while its ranking in terms of a well-educated workforce has fallen.

"He says it's the California comeback; we're on top of the world," the former U.S. Treasury official said during an appearance before the Sacramento Press Club. "Forty-sixth in education, 46th in jobs. No. 1 in poverty. Jerry Brown's legacy is the destruction of the middle class of California."

California had Republican governors for 23 of the last 34 years, but Kashkari said the comparison is fair because Brown is seeking re-election based on his 40-year political career.

Brown's political spokesman, Dan Newman, said just the opposite is true. He credited Brown with California's economic turnaround after repeated years of multibillion-dollar budget deficits.

"California and the nation was in a pretty deep hole after President Bush and Gov. Schwarzenegger, and we had deep deficits, the economy was struggling and our schools were suffering," he said. "Gov. Brown came into office and in a few short years eliminated a $27 billion deficit, turned it into a surplus."

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