Republican Neel Kashkari was hoping to spark a conversation with California voters in this year's race for governor.
The first-time candidate wanted to debate growing inequality in the state's economy and its underperforming K-12 school system.
But without enough money or ground support, he's largely been unable to force those issues into the spotlight or engage Gov. Jerry Brown in a competitive campaign.
The Democratic governor did not even hold official campaign events until October, and his few appearances have focused on the ballot measures he is promoting.
Public opinion polls show he has a lead of 16 to 21 percentage points.
Hoover Institution research fellow Bill Whalen says Brown could end up in the odd position of posting a resounding win on Tuesday without any specific mandate from voters.