Republican Tim Donnelly formally announced his candidacy for California governor Tuesday, criticizing incumbent Jerry Brown for his prison policies and a state business climate Donnelly said is unduly burdensome.
The Twin Peaks assemblyman said at an 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.
Brown, a Democrat, is widely expected to seek re-election. He has raised more than $11 million for the effort, and even Republicans believe he will be difficult to defeat.
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.
Donnelly has reported raising less than $100,000 for his gubernatorial campaign, and he has continued to maintain a campaign account for re-election to his Assembly seat. The official declaration period for candidates does not open until February, but he will have to decide for good by then. State law does not allow a candidate to run for two offices at once.
Donnelly told The Bee he will abandon his campaign for re-election.
"I am moving forward on the gubernatorial campaign," he said. "I will be closing my account for re-election."
Like Maldonado, Donnelly criticized the Brown administration's prison realignment, in which the state transferred responsibility for certain low-level offenders from the prison system to counties in 2011.
"We need a governor who will put our public safety first," Donnelly said.
Donnelly also railed against taxes he said are too high and an unemployment rate just below 9 percent.
Tenoch Flores, spokesman for the California Democratic Party, said California is in the "best shape it's been in over 10 years" and that Republicans so far are demonstrating they "can't mount a credible campaign against Brown."
Of Donnelly, he said, "You're talking about running a tea party Republican candidate statewide in the bluest state in the country."
Donnelly's campaign said he will go on a "statewide bus tour" this week, leaving Baldwin Park for a stop in Buttonwillow, in the Central Valley, on Wednesday.
Editor's note: This post was updated at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to include Donnelly's remarks to The Bee.
PHOTO: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly waits for the California Legislature's session to open on Jan. 4, 2012, in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.