In a radio interview Friday morning, Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for California governor, made a push for regularly drug-testing state lawmakers. There was some blowback.
By Friday afternoon, Kashkari was saying his drug-testing comment was just "a joke," the Merced Sun-Star reported. "It was 6 a.m., I'm trying to entertain people," he said during an interview at the California Republican Party's fall convention.
Entertainingly or not, Kashkari had declared just hours earlier, "Every statewide officeholder and everyone in the Assembly and the Senate, why don't we just have an annual mandatory drug test?"
Speaking on the Mark Larson Show on KCBQ in San Diego, the candidate added that with so many California lawmakers getting into trouble recently, he couldn’t imagine that many would agree to be tested.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Kashkari's remarks were "met with derision from lawmakers."
"The only thing tripping is Mr. Kashkari’s desperate campaign," said a spokesman for Darrell Steinberg, the Democratic state Senate leader.
Three Democratic state senators -- Leland Yee, Ron Calderon and Rod Wright -- were suspended this year over criminal charges, stripping the Democrats of their supermajority in the upper chamber. Earlier this month Democratic state Sen. Ben Hueso was charged with misdemeanor drunk driving. None of the incidents, the Sacramento Bee noted, involved use of illegal drugs.
Kashkari, a former official in the U.S. Treasury Department, came in second to California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in the state's open primary in June. The two will face off again in the November general election. Polls suggest that Brown has a significant lead.