Republican Tim Donnelly formally announced his candidacy for California governor Tuesday, criticizing incumbent Jerry Brown for his law enforcement and economic policies and promising to campaign on a platform of lowering taxes.
The Twin Peaks assemblyman said at a Southern California event in Baldwin Park that government should “stop telling us what to do.”
Donnelly, a former member of the anti-illegal immigration Minuteman Project, joins former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a moderate Republican, in the race.
Donnelly and Maldonado have raised only meager sums of money and face an uphill climb in heavily Democratic California. Brown, a Democrat, is widely expected to seek re-election and has raised more than $12.5 million for the effort.
Donnelly, who is also backing an effort to recall a handful of lawmakers who supported gun control legislation this year, has been promoting himself as a candidate for governor for weeks. He has reported raising about $100,000 for his gubernatorial campaign, while also maintaining a campaign account for re-election to his Assembly seat.
The official filing period for office does not open until early next year, at which point Donnelly would have to decide which office to seek. State law does not allow a candidate to seek more than one office in the same election.
Donnelly told The Bee he is fully committed to the gubernatorial campaign and will close his Assembly re-election account.
Like Maldonado, Donnelly criticized Brown for his administration’s prison realignment, in which the state transferred responsibility for certain low-level offenders from the prison system to counties in 2011. Donnelly also railed against taxes he said are too high and an unemployment rate just below 9 percent. After voters passed Brown’s Proposition 30 one year ago to raise taxes, Donnelly said he would argue tax rates should be lowered.
“I think the No. 1 issue in this race is going to be taxes,” Donnelly said. “You’ve got Jerry Brown confiscating our earnings in order to subsidize all kinds of crazy programs. He hasn’t done anything to get economic growth going in the state.”
In an online video coinciding with his campaign announcement, Donnelly said, “We need to make California the sexiest place to do business, because right now the only thing sexy to me in the state of California is my wife.”
In the same video, Donnelly said he is “tired of the media ... always trying to divide us.” He objected to being called “white,” saying, “I’m a fleshy, pinkish tone.”
California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said California is in the “best shape it’s been in over 10 years” and that Republicans are demonstrating they “can’t mount a credible campaign against Brown.”
He said of Donnelly: “You’re talking about running a tea party Republican candidate statewide in the bluest state in the country.”
Donnelly’s campaign said he will begin touring the state by bus this week, leaving Baldwin Park for a stop today in Buttonwillow in Kern County.
Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders