THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - Thursday night Governor Jerry Brown squared off with Republican challenger Neel Kashkari in what was a heated debate out of Sacramento.
Kashkari now trails brown by just 16 points, but Brown's lead remains large -- not only in the polls but also in the bank.
The first and only face off between the candidates was at times anything but pleasant.
"You should be ashamed of yourself governor, I'm going to fight for the kids," said Kashkari about the nine California public school students who sued the state over its teacher tenure laws.
"That makes no sense at all, that is so false," Governor Brown argued.
Brown, seeking his fourth term, spared with the former U.S. Treasury official on a number of issues, including health care, education reform and the recent child immigration dispute.
"They deserve a fair hearing because they're coming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala where they're facing gangs, murder," Brown said.
"The solution to suffering kids is not open borders in America," Kashkari said.
Also a source of contention: Tesla's recent decision to build a battery factory in Nevada, which local politicians hoped to bring to the Salton Sea area.
"Tesla wanted a massive cash upfront payment that I didn't think would be fair to the taxpayers of California," Brown explained.
But Kashkari said Brown didn't do nearly enough to incentivize Tesla and other companies to invest in the state's economy.
"In the four years Governor Brown has been governor, we've been ranked 50th out of 50 states in business climate," Kashkari said.
Issue after issue, Kashkari attacked Brown for being out of touch with Californians, and highlighted the administration's failure to create a thriving middle class.
"Twenty-four percent poverty. How can it be, this great state? It's because we've done this to ourselves," said Kashkari, who is of Indian descent and added that he grew up in a middle-class family of immigrants.
Brown says he took over what was considered a failed state, and has since turned it around with nearly 1.4 million new jobs, a higher minimum wage and expanded health care.
"California's not perfect, we have problems but boy, what momentum we have," Brown said.