Can a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Obama-voting Republican who is also a Hindu win the hearts and minds of GOP votes and save it from a horrid disaster in 2014?

Former assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari, someone no one knows, has announced for governor and will face off against retiring Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, also someone no one knows, for the right to face a governor named Edmund G. Brown whose name first appeared on a statewide ballot in 1946 and who represents California’s most enduring political dynasty.

But before November we will have the June primary to decide the runoff slot for one of the two Republicans.  It is interesting to look at who will be voting.  There are 5.2 million registered Republicans in California of whom over two million will probably cast a ballot in June, based on past voting behavior.

Ordinary Republicans are not ideological voters; they will wait until the election draws near and then realize they have to vote, and so will look to the television set and mailbox for guidance.  They are also voters highly alienated from contemporary California.  Once they reveled in California as the city on the hill, in Ronald Reagan parlance, now they see a state whose economy is as dry as its reservoirs.  They have moved away from the major cities to exurban gated and rural communities to escape what they see as a voracious state and local bureaucracy that just wants to raise their taxes and spend money on its employees and their pensions.

The Republican voter is older and whiter than the state as a whole; and is also alienated from the political system; they vote just because it is their civic duty, with little passion.  They have wasted their votes for president for a quarter century, not since 2006 have they voted for winner for any statewide office.

They are also nostalgic for what one might call the “white picket fence” suburbia of their youth; that is why they are ambivalent to hostile when it comes to immigrants.  To them immigrants have overpopulated the state, commit too many crimes, are introducing foreign cultures and languages, and prop up a Democratic party that pays them off with public benefits, all at the expense of Republican taxpayers.

So when Kashkari starts off his speeches and op eds by telling everyone his parents immigrated from India 50 years ago, that’s a signal to GOP voters that he is part of the immigrant crowd, not the “white picket fence” crowd.  When he talks about poverty, Republicans hear just one more politician who wants to spend money on an underclass of poor people who are not willing to work as hard as they did to get ahead.  When he talk about “giving kids a quality education,” Republicans hear just  a code word for raising taxes to spend more on schools that don’t work and on teachers’ unions.

But there is a way to appeal to these voters which neither Kashkari nor Donnelly, nor any Democrat for that matter, seems capable of doing.  That is to talk generational.  We are the first generation where grandchildren will not live better than their grandparents.  Older Republican voters know how hard it is for their kids and grandkids to get a job; how they come out of college with enormous student debt, and face a California with declining job opportunities.  Their nostalgia is also for an economy that once produced fine jobs for them and their families.

And they know exactly who to blame. California Democrats have shown scant interest in job creation, other than amorphous “green jobs” that really don’t exist.  Republicans opposed the Jerry Brown tax increase that is now shown to have been unnecessary but whose proceeds are being used to pay down massive debts caused by a no growth economy over the past 15 years.  They also see a government that wants to fund a crusade on global warming at tremendous economic cost, that wants to build a high speed train to nowhere, and that is determined to shift wealth from their pocketbooks to the one fourth of California living in poverty  – but has no interest creating better job opportunities for their kinds of Californians.

So if Kashkari wants to appeal to a Republicans electorate whose prejudices will lead them to view him with suspicion, he needs to appeal to the “white picket fence” generation by showing how his job creation plans will help their children get a job, and how fixing education will serve their kids’ needs. Thus far he has shown little interest in framing his proposals to appeal to the people who are actually going to vote in the Republican primary.  He needs to explain how Democratic no growth policies have kept the recession alive in this state for everyone except a small fringe of super wealthy Hollywood and Silicon Valley types.

He does have one advantage in the contest with Donnelly, the right wing in California is broke, so broke in fact that they were not even able to finance a referendum to overturn the transgender school bathroom law.  Donnelly will have nowhere near the amount of money needed to communicate to the five million California Republicans, even though he is already attacking Kashkari as a dreaded RINO (Republican in Name Only).

And GOP party elders should take note that if a moneyless Donnelly were in the runoff against Brown he would be pilloried by huge masses of Democratic cash to turnout suburban women, Latinos and young voters in such large numbers that Republicans running for congress and the legislature would be carried down to defeat with him.

So if Kashkari frames an attractive message, and can be sufficiently funded, he can get his message through the clutter.  Maybe Kashkari, who has credible credentials and views far more in the political mainstream with California voters than Donnelly, is something of a godsend to help Republicans dig out of their awful hole before the entire political structure collapses down on them.