Donnelly announces governor bid
High Desert assemblyman one of two challengers thus far to Gov. Brown
SACRAMENTO • Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly on Tuesday announced his 2014 bid for California governor.
Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, representing the High Desert in the 33rd Assembly District, will be wading into a race against Gov. Jerry Brown despite the incumbent’s seemingly unstoppable money and campaign machinery.
A call to Donnelly’s gubernatorial campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Donnelly’s perceived conservative stance on bills regulating firearms, allowing undocumented workers to apply for driver’s licenses and permitting legal resident aliens to work polls has not dissuaded his belief he can gather enough support to win among a historically liberal electorate.
“I believe California has a divided majority that has no voice,” he said last month at a campaign fundraiser in Apple Valley. “I intend to become that voice.”
The Oct. 12 fundraiser was one of the first stops of Donnelly’s “guerrilla grass-roots” campaign this fall throughout Southern California — then as only a prospective gubernatorial candidate.
Hosted at Rawhide Ranch, it attracted a number of local public officials, including Apple Valley Town Council members Curt Emick, Art Bishop, Scott Nassif, Barb Stanton and Larry Cusack; Joseph W. Brady of the Victor Valley College Board of Trustees; Carl Coleman of the Mojave Water Board; Apple Valley Fire Protection District board member Cliff Earp; and Rebecca Tennison, a representative for state Sen. Steve Knight.
Donnelly says his campaign will offer voters an alternative to the high taxes and government interference offered by Brown and his fellow Democrats.
His primary platform will consist of lowering income taxes and protecting constitutional rights such as the Second Amendment, he previously said.
Yet his candidacy, along with that of former lawmaker and Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a moderate Republican, is unlikely to receive a warm welcome from the GOP establishment. After decades of sinking registration numbers, the party has sought to rebrand itself so it can appeal to a wider variety of voters, including Latinos.
Many party delegates had hoped to shift the party to the political center and keep the focus off the divisive issues that have been central to Donnelly’s previous campaigns, including his history as a former Minuteman border enforcer.
Mindful of the need to connect with a broader base of voters, Donnelly on Tuesday was flanked by a diverse group of supporters at the furniture factory in the Los Angeles County city of Baldwin Park, where he announced his candidacy.
The official filing period to run for governor does not begin until Feb. 10.
Next year is the first in which the primary for governor will be a top-two, in which both leading candidates will move on to the general election regardless of party affiliation.
Whoever emerges will face a daunting challenge in Brown, the 75-year-old governor who returned to office in 2011 after first serving from 1975 to 1983. Brown has yet to announce a bid for re-election, but there is little doubt that he will run.
After becoming the longest-serving governor earlier this month, Brown quipped last week that: “I’m only in the third year of my first of my second terms.”
Brown has a 49-percent approval rating among likely voters, according to a September Public Policy Institute of California poll and has nearly $16 million in his two campaign committees. He also successfully shepherded a budget through the state Legislature this year with little drama after voters approved billions of dollars in temporary sales and income taxes last year.
Donnelly said last month that a formal announcement of his gubernatorial run was contingent on who was in the race, how much money could be raised and evaluating the amount of support received from local communities and leaders.
Editor’s note: The original version of this story contained incorrect information from Tim Donnelly’s campaign website. The only speaker scheduled for the God and Country event on Thursday is Jeff Struecker.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Shea Johnson may be reached at 760-955-5368 or at SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com.