GOP Candidate Walks Back Proposal to Drug Test Officials

By McCarton Ackerman 09/23/14

The Republican Party's candidate for governor in California later claimed that he was kidding about the proposal after being roundly criticized.

Image: 
Neel Kashkari.jpg
Good luck, Neel. Wiki Commons

A Republican gubernatorial candidate in California has backtracked on his suggestion that elected officials be required to undergo drug testing after being slammed by numerous politicians. Speaking last week on the Mark Larson radio show, Neel Kashkari attempted to link his proposal to four state senators who are currently facing criminal charges.

“I think we should drug-test the legislators. Why don’t we…just have an annual mandatory drug test?” he said. “Given how many are getting in more and more trouble, mostly Democrats, more and more trouble every week, it seems, I can’t imagine how many would sign up for a voluntary drug test.” Kashkari later tweeted that the “sound you hear is heads exploding in Sacramento.”

While one of the four state senators that Kashkari tried to link his argument to was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, drug use has not been alleged in any of the cases. Lawmakers throughout the state blasted his proposal as little more than a publicity stunt.

“If the architect of George W. Bush’s Wall Street bailouts thinks he has any credibility on this or any other legislative issue, then he must be the one smoking something,” said Senate President Pro Tem–elect Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). Rhys William, a spokesman for Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said that “the only thing tripping is Mr. Kashkari’s desperate campaign.”

Three days later, Kashkari backed down on his proposal and claimed that it was made in jest, telling reporters at the state Republican convention near LAX that “we’ve got better things to worry about.” His opponent in the general election, Democrat Jerry Brown, is an overwhelming favorite to win re-election.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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