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GOPsigns.jpgBURLINGAME - After letting reporters listen to remarks from one Republican candidate for governor, Neel Kashkari, county chairmen at the state party's biannual convention Friday closed the room for the speech given by another candidate, Tim Donnelly.

The move visibly frustrated Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, who had wanted the meeting to be open press.

He said afterward, "That's tweetable, right there."

Mark Pruner, president of the county leaders' group, said later Friday that momentum had been building throughout the day to close the meeting to the media and had only to do with Donnelly holding a later speaking spot than Kashkari.

County chairmen, he said, "were concerned about what the press would write ... It kind of built up, built up, built up."

The state party comes into the weekend laboring to reverse decades of decline. No Republican holds statewide office, and the GOP has seen its voter registration fall to less than 29 percent statewide.

"This is a party that, whether we like it or not, has been in decline for over two decades in this state," Jim Brulte, chairman of the state party, told reporters. "We have a significant rebuilding operation on our hands."

Donnelly and Kashkari met in passing Friday, and they shook hands, while Kashkari and a third candidate for governor, Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount, engaged in friendly conversation at a dinner.

"How are things? Things are good? Kashkari said to Blount.

Blount said they were.

"How about you, man?" he asked Kashkari. "I see your signs everywhere."

PHOTO: Supporters of rival gubernatorial candidates Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari post signs beside each other at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 14, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders



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