Republican gubernatorial candidate brings his roadshow to Atascadero
July 11, 2013
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Most observers of California politics expect Governor Jerry Brown to remain in office for yet another term. Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly does not.
Though Donnelly is most known for bringing a loaded gun into an airport and for founding the California version of the border-guarding Minuteman Party, the assemblyman from San Bernardino County is running for governor and planning on unseating Brown.
“I am not in this to make a statement,” Donnelly said Wednesday night in rural Atascadero. “I am in this to win it.”
Donnelly does not shy away from making statements, though. He is currently traveling the state in a truck with 345,000 miles on it, campaigning for the governorship, but also calling for the abolishment of the IRS and TSA and warning people about another alphabet soup government agency that is snatching babies.
The second term assemblyman from the San Bernardino Mountains alluded to an incident in April in which Child Protective Services took custody of an infant following the parents’ request for a second opinion on a surgery that a doctor wanted to perform.
“The government has decided that it is going to make the decision on your health care, so if you’re wondering about the implementation of Obamacare, this is a glimpse,” Donnelly said.
When given the microphone Wednesday evening, Donnelly shed his jacket and tie and addressed the audience in his cowboy hat.
“The way we’re going to get back to being a free people is when our candidates are wearing out boots, not wearing out golf clubs,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly’s core message is that Californians have too much government and too little freedom. The assemblyman says the country, and California particularly, must return to abiding by the U.S. Constitution.
One section of the Constitution on which Donnelly focuses is the Second Amendment.
“It aint about whether you like a particular type of gun,” Donnelly said. “It’s about whether you like freedom. That’s what the Second Amendment is about.”
Donnelly opposed several gun control measure passed recently by the legislature, in particular one that limits the number of legal rounds in a magazine to 10. In explaining his opposition to magazine size limits, Donnelly citied an incident in February when rogue former Los Angles police officer Christopher Dorner was on the loose near his home. The assemblyman said he was in Sacramento at the time and only his son was inside the house.
“I didn’t tell him you only take 10 rounds with you. If we got a 30 round clip, I want you to use it,” Donnelly said. “If someone comes breaking through that door and trying to pound it down, shoot him and don’t stop shooting until you run out of bullets.”
In addition to arguing for a robust Second Amendment, Donnelly says he stands firmly for civil liberties.
The assemblyman recently authored a bill, known as the California Liberty Preservation Act, which would prohibit state and local officials from assisting the U.S. military in indefinitely detaining American citizens under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The bill passed the assembly in May and advanced out of the Senate Public Safety Committee in June.
For his defense of civil liberties, Donnelly has won some supporters with whom he disagrees on most issues. The American Civil Liberties Union has endorsed Donnelly’s Liberty Preservation Act and Democratic actor Rob Schneider spoke alongside Donnelly at a medical freedom rally last year.
Following the CPS incident in April, Donnelly called for an audit of CPS agencies. A Democratic assemblyman joined his call for the audit, and last month, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted unanimously to audit the CPS in three California counties.
However, Donnelly acknowledges that most people still know him as the “assemblyman who carried his 45 into the airport.” He says he expects little campaign support from the Sacramento press corps, which he says behaved like a group of piranhas when he first publicly discussed his mishap at the airport.
Donnelly said he should have followed the law and not brought his gun, albeit by accident, into the airport. But, he still used the situation as an opportunity to take on the TSA. Donnelly described the TSA as “security theater” and said airlines should have the responsibility for screening their passengers.
In pursuit of the governor’s mansion, Donnelly said he is sticking to what has worked in his only two elections: guerrilla, grass roots campaigning. The San Bernardino County assemblyman prides himself on knocking on doors and even bragged that he won a few votes en route to Atascadero.
“I was just at a gas station in Arroyo Grande, and there was a line for the bathroom,” Donnelly said. “I didn’t want to waste any time, so I won three votes while I was waiting in line for the bathroom. That’s what I call guerrilla, grass roots.”
Donnelly says he is also harnessing the power of social media. He offered to personally “friend” anyone on Facebook who “likes” his campaign page.
Currently, Donnelly’s only Republican challenger is former lieutenant governor and Central Coast legislator Abel Maldonado. The crowd booed Wednesday when Donnelly referenced Maldonado.