BURLINGAME - Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said Saturday that the California Republican Party needs to "reconnect with the church," rallying conservative activists in his primary contest with Neel Kashkari.
"Elections are not just about connecting with people," Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, told a meeting of conservatives at the California Republican Party's biannual convention. "I believe we need to reconnect with the church."
For Donnelly, no audience is more sympathetic. The Legislature's most outspoken gun rights and anti-illegal immigration advocate is a tea party favorite and has the endorsement of the conservative California Republican Assembly in the GOP's longshot bid to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown.
Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, is preferred by many members of the party's donor and professional class for his more moderate social views.
Donnelly, facing ongoing controversy surrounding his own gun use, including pleading no contest to two misdemeanors after carrying a loaded gun into Ontario International Airport in 2012, remained unperturbed.
"If you know that there's a group that has not been voting because they're not inspired, and because we don't have candidates who are willing to at least stick to their guns," he told the conservative group, pausing. "Oh, did I just say that?"
The room erupted in laughter and applause.
"It's all right," Donnelly said. "You can clap."
PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly speaks with reporters at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 15, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders