Gov. Jerry Brown has little to lose as he faces his Republican challenger in the only gubernatorial debate on the calendar this election season.
The Democratic incumbent is strongly favored to win re-election and has nearly $23 million in the bank from donors spanning the political spectrum.
But Thursday night's debate in Sacramento offers an opportunity for Republican Neel Kashkari to introduce himself to voters and prove he is a credible challenger.
The former U.S. Treasury official who led the bank bailout has struggled to gain attention and money in the face of a powerful incumbent, often turning to social media.
Debate topics are expected to include the state's uneven economic recovery, education, high-speed rail and even the announcement this week that Tesla would build its battery factory in Nevada.
Watch the debate live on C-SPAN starting 7 p.m., Sept. 4.