ANAHEIM - Tim Donnelly said Sunday that his frontrunner status among Republicans running for governor is evidence "people want a fighter," and he blamed the media for what he said is negative coverage of controversies that have riddled his campaign.
"If you read the headlines in the papers today you'd think I'm some kind of terrible person, but when you read the actual stories you go, oh, he had a paperwork deadline. Oh, Ok, oh, that was already paid off ... I mean, come on," Donnelly told reporters at a California Federation of Republican Women candidate forum here.
Donnelly, an assemblyman from Twin Peaks, appeared to be referring to a Fair Political Practices Commission investigation into what it said were missing campaign finance statements for a political action committee Donnelly formed in 2012, as well as a tax lien the state filed last year against Donnelly's former business, Donnelly Plastic Equipment Inc.
Donnelly's campaign has said it re-sent documents related to the political action committee, and the $2,829 lien against Donnelly's former business was listed as being released last month.
Most recently, Tom Scott, a supporter of rival Neel Kashkari, filed a complaint with the FPPC accusing Donnelly of failing to report expenses related to the use of an RV for the campaign in February. Donnelly said an amended campaign finance statement "was already in the process and will be public soon."
No Republican is likely to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown, a popular Democrat, in this heavily Democratic state. But Donnelly leads Kashkari and Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount in the race to finish second in June and advance to a November runoff against the governor.
Donnelly, a tea party favorite, said his status as a frontrunner is "scary" and "fantastic."
"It's humorous to me: I'm a guy that was running a business out of the back of my garage, you know, five years ago, and so here I am being attacked relentlessly in the newspapers and yet I'm the frontrunner," he said. "Obviously there's something in the air that people want a fighter. They want somebody who will go and pick the right fight and take a stand."
Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, told a supporter Sunday that his campaign is "about to make the jump to light speed," with mailers and other voter outreach in the "final stretch between now and the primary."
PHOTO: Republican Tim Donnelly speaks with reporters outside a candidate forum in Anaheim on April 27, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders