Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 4, 2014
Tim Donnelly lauds effort in losing campaign

donnellypunjabi.jpgOne day after rival Republican Neel Kashkari dispatched him in the race for governor, Tim Donnelly said in a message to supporters Wednesday that he was proud of a low-budget campaign that "nearly matched the millions spent to defeat us."

"Our campaign may have failed to win the top spot, but we showed that grassroots and meeting people in person is a powerful way to build support," the tea party-backed candidate said in a message on his website.

Donnelly did not mention Kashkari, an establishment-backed candidate who came from behind to finish second on Tuesday and advance to a November runoff against Gov. Jerry Brown. Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, was hammered by conservatives for his vote for Barack Obama in 2008 and for his liberal social views, and is unclear how successful he will be in winning them over.

Kashkari praised Donnelly at a news conference in Corona del Mar earlier Wednesday, saying "he worked really hard, and if there's anything I respect, it's hard work."

He also made overtures to Donnelly's supporters, saying "they put themselves into this race, and I appreciate that."

"Too often we as Republicans spend time fighting with one another," Kashkari said. "If we are united, supporting each other and focusing our energy on changing Sacramento, we will be much more successful."

Donnelly said his campaign had "united a small, but hardy band of Californians who refuse to be controlled by their government, and our numbers are growing."

He said, "This part of the journey may have ended, but one thing became clear: the political establishment remains the greatest threat to California's future, and last nights result showed that without spending a penny on traditional advertising, we nearly matched the millions spent to defeat us."

PHOTO: Tim Donnelly campaigns at the Punjabi American Festival in Yuba City on May 25, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

June 2, 2014
VIDEO: Tim Donnelly dismisses latest poll

donnellypunjabi.jpgPublic opinion polls have been favorable to Tim Donnelly for much of the year, and he ballyhooed them to assert his frontrunner status in the Republican race for governor.

Along with endorsements from local Republican groups, the polls served the tea party-backed candidate's efforts to counter attacks from establishment Republicans such as former Gov. Pete Wilson, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and strategist Karl Rove.

On Sunday, however, a USC/Los Angeles Times poll showed Donnelly's GOP rival, Neel Kashkari, ahead of Donnelly by a narrow margin, 18 percent to 13 percent among likely voters.

Donnelly was dismissive.

"The only poll that is going to matter is tomorrow, and we're close enough that I'm not worried about any other polls," Donnelly told reporters at the Capitol on Monday. "And at people's doorsteps, I've discovered that this whole thing is up for grabs, and it's going to be whoever turns out their votes, that's who's going to win."

Kashkari, in a spate of radio interviews Monday, said the poll is evidence his recent spending on mailers and TV ads is paying off.

Before he started advertising, Kashkari said on KGO 810 radio in San Francisco, "most voters had not been paying attention to the race," and all he needed was "to introduce myself to voters."

PHOTO: Tim Donnelly campaigns at the Punjabi American Festival in Yuba City on May 25, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

June 1, 2014
Poll: Kashkari, Donnelly in dead heat in race for governor

kashkaridam.jpgRepublicans Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari are locked in a statistical dead heat in the Republican race for governor, according to a new USC/Los Angeles Times poll.

Eighteen percent of likely voters support Kashkari and 13 percent support Donnelly, with 10 percent undecided, according to the poll.

Both Republicans remain far behind Gov. Jerry Brown. The Democratic incumbent registered 50 percent support among likely voters. The race between Kashkari and Donnelly is to determine who will advance to a runoff against Brown in the fall.

The difference between Kashkari and Donnelly is within the poll's margin of error. But it represents a major improvement for Kashkari, who consistently trailed Donnelly in public opinion polls all year. The poll released Sunday follows an advertising push by Kashkari in the final weeks of the campaign.

PHOTO: PHOTO: Republican Neel Kashkari speaks with reporters at Oroville Dam on March 28, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

May 28, 2014
Tim Donnelly phones in to Andrew Tahmooressi rally

donnellypunjabi.jpgWhen Tim Donnelly was asked at a debate this month about the plight of a Marine Corps veteran jailed in Mexico on a gun matter, Donnelly said if he was governor he would go to the border to lobby for the American's release.

"We need to make a lot of noise," Donnelly said, "and if I was the governor of the state of California, I would have taken a helicopter, and I would be landing on the border and holding a protest and demanding that they free our Marine."

On Wednesday, Donnelly said on Twitter that he called in to just such a rally, in San Ysidro, south of San Diego. He lacked the imprimatur of the governor's office but took the opportunity to make noise.

"Just spoke via phone at the SD protest rally demanding his release!" Donnelly wrote. "Let us not rest until he is home! Godspeed."

The controversy surrounding the incarceration of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi involves not only a border crossing but carrying guns where they are not allowed. Donnelly knows something about that: The former member of the anti-illegal immigration Minuteman Project is on probation for carrying a loaded firearm into Ontario International Airport in 2012.

Tahmooressi said he mistakenly crossed the border when he made a wrong turn, according to the UT San Diego. Donnelly said he forgot he had the gun in his carry-on.

For the purposes of the governor's race, Donnelly has said his gun case will only help him with Second Amendment advocates. And with rival Neel Kashkari closing on him in public opinion polls less than a week before the June 3 primary election, the opportunity to remind voters of his credentials may not hurt, either.

PHOTO: Tim Donnelly campaigns at the Punjabi American Festival in Yuba City on May 25, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

May 27, 2014
Tim Donnelly calls financial difficulties proof he can relate

donnellyscrum.jpgRepublican Tim Donnelly said Tuesday that his past financial difficulties are evidence he can relate to regular Californians, firing back at Neel Kashkari, his better-funded rival in the governor's race one week before the primary election.

"I'm not a millionaire, I didn't make a killing off the taxpayers by running TARP and bailing out Wall Street," Donnelly said in an interview on KMJ News Talk Radio in Fresno.

Kashkari, who managed the federal government's $700 billion bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, made about $145,000 a year while working at the U.S. Treasury Department, his campaign said.

Donnelly's remarks come after Kashkari portrayed Donnelly in a mailer as financially irresponsible. Kashkari criticized Donnelly for a foreclosure on an investment property in South Carolina in 2012, and for a $2,829 tax lien the state filed against Donnelly's former business, Donnelly Plastic Equipment Inc. San Bernardino County listed the lien as being released in March.

"Hey, I lost a piece of property in the downturn," Donnelly said. "I did everything I could to save it. I put a lot of money into it ... And a balloon payment came due and there was nothing I could do."

Kashkari, appearing immediately after Donnelly on KMJ, said Donnelly's personal finances are part of a less-than-conservative fiscal record.

"It's fiscal conservatism for everyone but him," Kashkari said, "and I think people appreciate knowing the truth."

Gov. Jerry Brown is widely expected to finish first in the primary election, with Donnelly and Kashkari competing for a spot in a runoff election against Brown in the fall. Kashkari has donated $2 million to his own campaign in recent weeks, while Donnelly has reported debts exceeding cash on hand.

Kashkari defended his role managing TARP, as he has previously, saying the program helped avert an economic collapse.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday to include information from Kashkari's campaign about his pay while working at the U.S. Treasury Department.

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

May 25, 2014
Kashkari, Donnelly hit festivals, fairs in final days of campaign

donnellypunjabi.jpgYUBA CITY - California is so large a state its gubernatorial campaigns are typically waged not door to door, but in television and radio ads, direct mail and, to a growing extent, online.

But tradition calls for candidates to wade into shopping malls, festivals and fairs in the final days of a campaign. So on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, Tim Donnelly put on his National Rifle Association hat and distributed literature at the Punjabi American Festival in Yuba City, while Neel Kashkari pet a baby goat and met with Republicans at the Sacramento County Fair.

Within hours they would be heading in opposite directions, Kashkari driving north to the festival Donnelly was attending and Donnelly considering a stop further south, in Bakersfield.

Just more than a week before the June 3 primary election, the two Republicans are locked in a close race for second place and a spot in the November runoff election against Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. The contest has drawn little outside money or interest, largely because neither Republican is expected to unseat Brown.

At the Punjabi American Festival, organizers were disinterested in controversy around comments Donnelly has made linking Kashkari, who is Hindu and of Indian heritage, to Islamic law. Interest in the candidates themselves was not exactly brimming over, either.

Tej Maan, a local councilman and one of the festival's organizers, pointed to U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who was waiting behind a stage. The presence of the federal lawmaker, Maan said, was "much bigger than the two governor candidates," and even that wasn't what the crowd came to see.

"Our focus is right in front of you, the youth," he said, as a group of youngsters began a traditional dance.

PHOTO: Tim Donnelly campaigns at the Punjabi American Festival in Yuba City on May 25, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

May 22, 2014
Tim Donnelly holds about $70,000 for campaign's final stretch

donnellyscrum.jpgTim Donnelly, laboring to stay ahead of a surging Neel Kashkari in the Republican race for governor, is struggling to maintain even his shoe-string budget, reporting Thursday he had cash on hand of just more than $70,000 as of last week.

Donnelly also reported $155,667 of outstanding debt.

Kashkari, who still trails Donnelly in public opinion polls, has gained ground on the Republican frontrunner after pumping $2 million of his own money into the campaign. In his campaign finance statement Thursday, covering a period from mid-March through mid-May, Kashkari reported an ending cash balance of just more than $1.4 million.

Kashkari is also getting help from establishment Republicans concerned about the effect Donnelly, a tea party favorite, might have on the GOP if he beats Kashkari and advances to a November runoff against Gov. Jerry Brown. Republican benefactor Charles Munger Jr. and billionaire Robert Day this week donated $350,000 and $50,000, respectively, to an independent expenditure committee financing mailers supporting Kashkari and opposing Donnelly.

One mailer incudes former Gov. Pete Wilson's public rebuke of Donnelly last week and brings up his past criminal cases. Donnelly has said Kashkari's self-financing and outside assistance is a sign of desperation.

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

May 22, 2014
VIDEO: Neel Kashkari pressed on social views, vote for Obama

kashkarifederated.jpgFRESNO - Republican Neel Kashkari has gained ground on rival Tim Donnelly in the race for governor in recent days, aided by $2 million of his own money and support from establishment Republicans.

But the GOP's most conservative crowds remain problematic for Kashkari, who is repeatedly asked to explain his moderate social views and vote for Barack Obama in 2008.

When Kashkari took the podium at a lunch in Fresno on Thursday, a Donnelly volunteer was in the audience to press the case.

"How do I handle this with my child, when someone is calling themselves a Republican?" said Gina Wallace, who teaches political science at California State University, Fresno. "How do I explain to him, it's Ok, he voted, he voted for Obama."

Kashkari said, "To me, being a Republican is about personal responsibility, and it's about fiscal responsibility, and it's about economic growth."

Donnelly, a tea party candidate who also addressed the crowd, was unimpressed with Kashkari's answer.

"I think people want to know what your record is," he said. "I think they're going to vote based on what your record is."

PHOTO: Republican Neel Kashkari addresses a lunch hosted by the Fresno County and City Republican Women Federated in Fresno on May 22, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

May 16, 2014
Neel Kashkari drops another $1 million into governor's race

kashkaridam.jpgRepublican Neel Kashkari has dropped another $1 million into his run for governor, his campaign said Friday, re-doubling his efforts as he tries to make up ground on GOP rival Tim Donnelly.

Kashkari has now donated $2 million to his campaign, accounting for about half of all money he has reported raising. It also represents a personally significant sum. Kashkari, who previously said he did not intend to self-finance, put his net worth at less than $5 million before the campaign began.

Despite greatly outspending Donnelly, Kashkari lags behind the Twin Peaks assemblyman in public opinion polls. Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs executive and former U.S. Treasury Department official, has recently started paid advertising, while Donnelly is unlikely to have any traditional advertising effort before the June 3 primary election.

Donnelly and Kashkari are the two main Republicans bidding to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown, a third-term Democrat, is widely expected to finish first in the June primary election, leaving Kashkari and Donnelly to compete for second place. The top two finishers advance to a runoff election in the fall.

PHOTO: Republican Neel Kashkari speaks with reporters at Oroville Dam on March 28, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

May 15, 2014
Neel Kashkari fires on Tim Donnelly in only scheduled debate

johnandkendebate.jpgANAHEIM - Republican Neel Kashkari tore into rival Tim Donnelly on Thursday, saying one reason many prominent Republicans are endorsing his candidacy for governor is because they fear Donnelly's impact on the party.

Donnelly, in the only scheduled debate of the campaign, responded by asserting his front-runner status among Republicans, and suggesting Kashkari's endorsers are out of touch.

"They don't kick a dead dog," Donnelly said. "They only attack you when you're the frontrunner."

Kashkari's remarks came after a relatively cautious initial 30 minutes of the campaign, when he was asked why Republians shouldn't vote for Donnelly. Kashkari referenced recent controversies in which Donnelly tried linking him to Islamic law, and to a vote in the state Assembly in which Donnelly opposed banning the sale of Confederate flags in state-run gift shops.

"You've managed to denigrate Latinos, African Americans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus," Kashkari said. "That's true."

The crowd erupted in jeers, with one audience member swearing at Kashkari.

The two candidates were set to debate for 90 minutes at the Ayres Hotel Anaheim, in a live broadcast of "The John and Ken Show," a conservative program on KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles.

The debate is the only one scheduled before the June 3 primary election, and the atmosphere was unusually boisterous for a gubernatorial debate. There was no ticketing. About 150 people, some of whom lined up hours in advance, filled a hotel conference room and adjoining buffet area for the debate. The hosts said they would take questions from anyone in the audience.

Neither Donnelly nor Kashkari is likely to beat Brown, a popular Democrat, and Brown has all but ignored them. The debate's hosts said Thursday that Brown did not respond to a request to join the debate, and in his place they put a skeleton with a "Jerry" name tag on the stage. The radio show hosts dressed the skeleton in a shirt and tie and one of them, John Kobylt, rubbed petroleum jelly on his head.

The race between Donnelly and Kashkari is a race for second place and a spot against Brown in the November runoff election.

Donnelly leads Kashkari by a wide margin in public opinion polls, but he lacks resources for traditional advertising. Kashkari has poured $1 million of his own money into the campaign and is airing what is likely to be a limited run of ads on TV.

Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, is backed by many members of California's political and professional classes, and he has announced endorsements from prominent Republicans such as former California Gov. Pete Wilson and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Donnelly has enjoyed fervent support from rank-and-file conservatives, and debating at the Ayres Hotel is something of a coming home. Donnelly said he came to a "John and Ken" event at the hotel when he was first running for the state Assembly, in 2010, distributing campaign literature and trying, unsuccessfully, to get on the air.

PHOTO: Republicans Tim Donnelly, right, and Neel Kashkari wait in Anaheim to start a debate hosted by "The John and Ken Show" on KFI AM 640 on May 15, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

May 15, 2014
Jerry Brown withholds judgment of GOP rivals, ignores debate stunt

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Gov. Jerry Brown, campaigning for a historic fourth term, said he has no preference which Republican challenger emerges from the primary to face him in November.

"My eleventh rule is don't interfere with the other party's selection," Brown said in a wide-ranging interview with The Sacramento Bee's Editorial Board on Thursday.

The Democratic governor spoke as his two main GOP rivals -- Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari -- were preparing for a debate hosted by KFI AM-640's "John and Ken Show."

Instead of the customary empty chair to mark Brown's absence, hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou dressed a skeleton in shirt and tie and affixed bushy eyebrows and a name tag that reads "Jerry." Brown briefly glanced at a reporter's photograph of the stand-in but declined to comment on the stunt.

"I've talked to Jon and Ken and what I found is I could be in the middle of making a very impressive point and they turn down my volume and continue to talk," he said. "As long as those are the rules, I don't think I am going to play that game."

Brown did acknowledge how different this campaign is from his last, noting that Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman had spent upward of $80 million by this time in the election four years ago.

"It's amazing how you can waste money in these campaigns," Brown said. "Cause they hire consultants, and then you don't know what the hell you're doing so you hire another consultant to advise you on the consultant you hired. And then you hire a few more. Pretty soon there you are."

Brown holds a commanding fundraising advantage and is far outpacing Donnelly and third-place candidate Kashkari. He added that there are other distinctions between the election cycles.

Said Brown: "Look, it's very different to be 76 then to be 71."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown meets with The Bee's Editorial Board for an endorsement interview Thursday. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.

May 15, 2014
Pete Wilson blasts Tim Donnelly, saying he would damage GOP

Petewilson2008.jpgFormer Gov. Pete Wilson urged California Republicans on Thursday not to support Tim Donnelly, the party's frontrunner in the gubernatorial race, saying his theatrics and personal controversies would drag down other Republicans on the ballot in the fall.

"Keeping public focus on the real and important issues facing California will require a candidate who does not have to defend Tim Donnelly's bizarre votes and statements or his irresponsible personal behavior," Wilson said in a letter first published on the conservative blog FlashReport.org. "With Tim Donnelly on the ballot, it would be a losing campaign, risking injury to our party and our state, and to other Republican candidates who deserve to win."

Wilson, who has endorsed Donnelly's main Republican opponent, Neel Kashkari, is the latest prominent Republican to publicly rebuke Donnelly. Many members of the GOP's political and professional classes fear Donnelly, a tea party favorite, could damage the party's effort to attract independent voters and minorities if he finishes first among Republicans in the June 3 primary election and advances to a runoff against Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall.

Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said "Donnelly is no longer a viable option for California voters," and the Lincoln Club of Orange County this week approved a vote of no confidence in Donnelly.

Wilson said in an interview Thursday that he was disturbed by Donnelly's past criminal cases. Donnelly has blamed a larceny case in Michigan in 1985 on a drunken "prank," while the assemblyman more recently pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors after carrying a loaded gun into Ontario International Airport in 2012.

Donnelly, a former member of anti-illegal immigration Minuteman Project, has also sparked controversy for his recent attempt to tie Kashkari to Islamic law.

"Most recently the thing that I found offensive, offensive notwithstanding its stupidity," Wilson said, "was attempting to, by implication, assert that Neel Kashkari is someone who has supported Shariah law."

In a meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board on Wednesday, Donnelly said elite Republicans are out of touch because "they're too busy golfing or drinking together," the newspaper reported.

"When the GOP is taking about the threat (I pose), they're right," Donnelly said, according to the newspaper. "I'm a threat to the country-club Republicans. I'm a danger because I might bring a little more country into the club."

Wilson, a former U.S. senator, assemblyman and San Diego mayor, chaired Meg Whitman's failed gubernatorial campaign in 2010. His early endorsement of Whitman in that race was significant in the GOP primary, including for his declaration she would be "tough as nails" on illegal immigration.

But Wilson has been viewed as less of a public asset to Republican candidates in general elections. Many Latino voters still have a visceral reaction to Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative, later overturned by the courts, Wilson championed to restrict public services to undocumented immigrants.

Donnelly leads Kashkari by a wide margin in public opinion polls. The two Republicans will meet Thursday night in Anaheim for their only scheduled debate ahead of the primary election. Donnelly's campaign RV was parked outside the hotel and supporters were parking in the parking lot hours ahead of the highly-anticipated head-to-head.

PHOTO: Former California Gov. Pete Wilson give a thumbs up while looking at his PDA during the start of the Republican National Convention in 2008. Brian Baer/The Sacramento Bee

May 8, 2014
Darrell Issa: 'No place' in GOP, governor's race for Tim Donnelly

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Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, forcefully rebuked a controversial social media post by the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Tim Donnelly linking rival Neel Kashkari to fundamentalist Islamic law.

Issa, a supporter of Kashkari's bid to unseat Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, said there is no place in public discussion "for this type of hateful and ignorant garbage."

"As far as I'm concerned, this type of stupidity disqualifies Tim Donnelly from being fit to hold any office, anywhere," Issa said in a prepared statement Thursday. "Donnelly is no longer a viable option for California voters."

Donnelly apologized for the post Wednesday after being confronted by Kashkari adviser Aaron McLear on KSCO AM 1080 in Santa Cruz. His Facebook page had carried a link to a 2008 U.S. Treasury Department program in which Kashkari was listed as a speaker. The event was meant to help "inform the policy community about Islamic financial services, which are an increasingly important part of the global financial industry."

After acknowledging the incorrect connection, Donnelly brushed aside the criticism.

"If the Washington political establishment would focus their energy of combatting the policies of the Marxist Progressives parading as Democrats rather than attacking other Republicans, then perhaps we would have a different president and jobs and prosperity instead of Obamacare. The ignorance and stupidity of Mr. Issa's comment is only surpassed by it's lack of any factual content," he said in a prepared statement.

"Fortunately the voters will be picking the next Governor of California, not Washington insiders like Mr. Issa, who in the interest of full disclosure, has endorsed my opponent, the architect of the big Gov't bailout of banks and billionaires known as TARP, a program vehemently opposed by Mr. Issa at the time."

The dustup comes as an increasing number of establishment Republicans coalesce around the moderate Kashkari and distance themselves from Donnelly, a tea party favorite and former minuteman. With his high profile as chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa stands to put the story on the national radar.

In his statement, Issa said he faced similar unfounded charges from an opponent when he ran for Congress — after having gubernatorial aspirations of his own. Issa, an Arab American of Lebanese Christian decent, said he was deeply resentful of the remarks.

"I was offended and outraged that someone who would run for the highest office in our state would resort to such hateful and disgusting rhetoric," he said. "It is crap like this that gives Republicans a bad name and there is no place in the Republican Party or in this race for someone like Tim Donnelly."

Editor's note: This post was updated at 3:15 p.m. to add a comment from Donnelly.

PHOTO: Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/ Carolyn Kaster, File)

May 8, 2014
Donnelly apologizes for tweet, tangles with Kashkari adviser on air

donnellyscrum.jpgRepublican Tim Donnelly, defending his campaign's social media posts linking rival Neel Kashkari to Islamic law, was on a conservative talk radio show Wednesday when a Kashkari adviser called into the station to protest, resulting in more than 10 minutes of unusual, head-to-head bickering and an apology by Donnelly for a tweet he acknowledged was inaccurate.

The exchange came after Donnelly's gubernatorial campaign this week included on its Facebook page a link to a program for an "Islamic Finance 101" seminar at the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008, when Kashkari was a senior Treasury official. Kashkari was listed as providing opening remarks for the seminar, the purpose of which was described as helping 'inform the policy community about Islamic financial services, which are an increasingly important part of the global financial industry."

Accompanying the link was the comment, "Given the recent stories and protests around the outrage of the discriminatory nature of Sharia law, we're horrified that Kashkari would support Sharia anything."

Donnelly, an assemblyman from Twin Peaks, said on KSCO AM 1080 in Santa Cruz that he "just allowed a post to go up" on Facebook referring to a 2008 commentary in The Washington Times. He said, "I didn't say that Mr. Kashkari is somehow, you know, a supporter of Sharia law, but he certainly was the host of this seminar, and on it was Sharia compliance."

Donnelly was confronted on air by Aaron McLear, a political adviser to Kashkari.

"It sounds like the assemblyman is once again a bit confused about the truth, and so I thought it'd be helpful to educate him on exactly what's going on," McLear said. "Neel Kashkari, first of all, is a Hindu, not a Muslim, as Mr. Donnelly is trying to insinuate."

Donnelly said he "never insinuated anything," and he shot back at the Kashkari campaign for posting a website attacking Donnelly on a variety of issues.

"Hey, Aaron, you guys put up a website trying to educate people about me, and it's completely fabricated and full of nonsense," Donnelly said.

The two men argued over each other briefly, after which the host said, "OK, one at a time, guys."

McLear said of Donnelly, "He tweeted, he tweeted, he directly accused Neel Kashkari of submitting to Sharia law. That's a big accusation. What actually happened was Neel was teaching Islamic bankers how to promote free market principles in Islamic societies under Sharia law, so it was actually the exact opposite."

McLear asked Donnelly if someone had hijacked his Twitter account, and he said, "These are big accusations. You need to back it up, Tim. If you can't prove it, you shouldn't say it."

McLear and Donnelly tangled until the radio station went to a break. When the show came back on, with McLear off the air, Donnelly said he had reviewed the tweet McLear complained about and agreed it was inaccurate.

"You know what? Aaron's right. We did re-tweet something that wasn't 100 percent accurate," Donnelly said. "We owe Mr. Kashkari an apology for that."

However, Donnelly said, "What is disappointing is that (Kashkari) sent his hired hand to call in, instead of calling in himself."

Donnelly said the purpose of the Treasury conference was to educate people in government about Islamic finance, "So what exactly was the Sharia compliance portion of it? It doesn't sound like promoting free market principles."

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

April 29, 2014
Conservative radio hosts say Kashkari, Donnelly will debate

donnellyscrum.jpgIt appeared unlikely as little as a month ago that Republican rivals Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari would debate before the June primary election.

But conservative talk radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou said Tuesday that they will.

Kobylt and Chiampou, of KFI-AM's "John and Ken" show in Los Angeles, said they will host Kashkari and Donnelly at a gubernatorial debate in Anaheim on May 15. Kashkari confirmed he will attend, while Donnelly's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The debate comes after Donnelly, a tea party favorite, challenged Kashkari to an "old-fashioned debate" at a California Republican Party convention in March, but the invitation was dismissed by Kashkari and party leaders.

When Kashkari was asked on the air Tuesday if he was coming to KFI-AM's debate, he said he was "looking forward to it" and that "it'll be a lot of fun." The former U.S. Treasury Department official lags behind Donnelly, a tea party favorite, in public opinion polls.

The primary election is a top-two race, and the radio hosts said Gov. Jerry Brown, the Democratic incumbent, has been invited to attend. The incumbent Democrat is widely expected to finish far ahead of all Republicans in the race.

"Jerry Brown is invited," one of the hosts said. "He can come, and we'll bring ointments to rub on his head."

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

April 29, 2014
VIDEO: Republican candidates at odds on film tax credits

kashkarikfbk.jpgTo all the things Republican gubernatorial candidates Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari disagree about, add film tax credits, a major issue to Southern California's movie industry.

Asked Tuesday about proposals to give more tax credits to production companies, Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, said he prefers tax and economic policies that are not industry specific.

"I don't like the idea of Hollywood leaving California, but I know that other states are subsidizing movies now, up to 30 percent of the cost of a movie, which is silly economic policy," Kashkari told The Sacramento Bee's Editorial Board.

Kashkari said he would focus on improving the state's overall economy and that, "If other states or other countries are going to do silly things, then let them do silly things."

Donnelly, an Assemblyman from Twin Peaks, is a proponent of film tax credits, saying he is concerned about industry jobs leaving California.

"This is really an iconic battle," Donnelly said. "This is a battle for what California stands for."

He joked about another, more personal reason he's like to keep movie production in the Golden State.

"Let's say there's some small, tiny chance that I don't win the governorship," he said. "As I've told my wife ... I'm either going to have a new job or I'm going to be looking for one, right? Those are my two choices. Well, given all the travel I've done to the 58 counties -- and I've taken just in the last couple of months 5,000 photos on my iPhone -- I could be one of those guys who helps you find a set for a movie, which I've always been fascinated by."

PHOTO: Neel Kashkari prepares for an interview at KFBK radio in Sacramento on Feb. 19, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

VIDEO: Republican Tim Donnelly discuses film tax credits with The Bee's editorial board on April 29, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Amy Chance

April 28, 2014
Tim Donnelly pushes for concealed carry bill

donnellyccw.jpgRepublican Tim Donnelly, who has made gun rights a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign, is pushing for legislation in the Assembly that would expand gun owners' access to concealed carry permits.

His bill, which he promoted at the Capitol on Monday, follows a federal court ruling in February that found the state's requirements for concealed weapons permits too restrictive.

Current state law requires applicants to show "good cause" and gives discretion over the permit process to local law enforcement officials. Donnelly, an assemblyman from Twin Peaks, said that process is "arbitrary and capricious," favoring gun owners who are well connected.

Donnelly said his legislation, which would require the state Department of Justice to issue a concealed handgun permit to gun owners who pass a background check, "would make the promise of our Second Amendment a reality for every Californian."

"A right's not a right if you can't exercise it," Donnelly told reporters at the Capitol.

Donnelly's legislation, Assembly Bill 1563, is unlikely to gain support in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, but it may further bolster his credentials with conservative activists.

Donnelly, the Legislature's most outspoken gun rights advocate, pleaded no contest in 2012 to two misdemeanor charges related to the discovery of a firearm in his carry-on bag at Ontario International Airport. Donnelly has said he forgot he had the gun.

Donnelly said Monday that he has had no personal experience with the concealed carry permit process in California, but that "maybe I would be one of the first people to apply for it under my new law."

Donnelly spoke to reporters ahead of a hearing by the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the legal status of the state's concealed carry restrictions remains uncertain.

While a three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state's requirement that applicants for concealed-weapon permits show "good cause," Attorney General Kamala Harris has asked the full court to review the ruling.

Nick Wilcox, with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said Monday that Donnelly's bill would inappropriately remove discretion from law enforcement officials about whether to issue concealed-weapon permits. He described the bill as a "political thing for Donnelly" and said it "has no hope of getting out of committee."

PHOTO: Republican Tim Donnelly speaks to reporters at the Capitol on April 28, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

April 27, 2014
Tim Donnelly says lead in polls is proof of 'something in the air'

donnellyanaheim.jpgANAHEIM - 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

April 18, 2014
FPPC investigating disclosure compliance by Tim Donnelly's PAC

donnellygunstore.jpgThe state agency overseeing campaign finance rules in California says Republican Tim Donnelly has failed for more than a year to file campaign finance statements for a political action committee he formed in 2012.

The Fair Political Practices Commission said Friday it has opened an investigation into the California Patriots PAC, a small fund whose stated purpose is to "support conservative candidates for public office throughout the state of California."

The investigation follows an inquiry letter the FPPC sent Donnelly, a gubernatorial candidate and Twin Peaks assemblyman, late last month. The letter, provided to The Bee in response to a California Public Records Act request, said the committee failed to file required campaign statements since October 2012.

At the time the FPPC wrote Donnelly, Donnelly's campaign said it had filed the statements and did not know why they did not appear on the Secretary of State's website, while the Secretary of State's office said it had not received the filings.

Donnelly's campaign said Friday that copies of the documents were re-sent Thursday. It provided copies of the filings to The Bee, which showed $18,470 in committee expenditures in 2012, including $8,783 for a mailer opposing West Covina Democrat Roger Hernandez's successful state Assembly campaign. The committee had $411 in cash on hand at the end of 2014.

In documents filed by recipients of the committee's money, the California Patriots PAC appears to have spent little since its formation, giving $3,947 to three unsuccessful Republican candidates for Assembly in 2012. The contributions reported by candidates include a non-monetary contribution of a banner worth $2,447 to Donna Lowe, who lost to Chris Holden, D-Pasadena. The committee gave $1,000 to Craig Huey's race in Los Angeles County, and $500 to JD Bennett's campaign in the Central Valley.

Gary Winuk, the FPPC's chief of enforcement, said a failure to file campaign statements runs counter to "the whole point of disclosure."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly visits the Outdoor Sportsman store in Stockton on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

April 16, 2014
Tim Donnelly fires legislative chief of staff

donnellyscrum.jpgOne month after splitting with his campaign manager in his run for governor, Republican Tim Donnelly has fired Alex Vassar, his legislative chief of staff, sources said.

The reason was unclear. Donnelly, a state assemblyman from Twin Peaks, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Vassar, who went to work for Donnelly last year, declined to comment.

Donnelly, the Legislature's most outspoken gun rights and anti-illegal immigration advocate, leads all Republicans in recent polls in an uphill effort to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown.

Donnelly's former campaign manager, Jennifer Kerns, announced last month that she had quit his gubernatorial campaign, while Donnelly called her departure a "mutual" decision.

In an email Wednesday, Kerns said Vassar's firing "represents a continuation of poor judgment" by Donnelly.

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

April 8, 2014
Tim Donnelly wants to abolish CPS, start over from 'ground up'

donnellygunstore.jpgRepublican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said Tuesday that he would abolish the state's Child Protective Services system and start over "from the ground up," saying social workers often remove children from their homes without sufficient reason.

"If I were in charge of the entire state, I can tell you right now I would abolish CPS," he said at a news conference at the Capitol, "because CPS has become the greatest threat to the very kids it was designed to protect."

Donnelly, a state assemblyman from Twin Peaks, called the news conference to promote legislation that would require social workers to conduct video or audio recordings of their interactions with children and parents when investigating child abuse. He said recordings would protect both families and social workers in disputes.

Assembly Bill 1828 is opposed by the California Welfare Directors Association, which said that "time is of the essence" in child abuse investigations and that "it is imperative that our CPS social workers be able to conduct interviews with children and their parents with unfettered access," according to a letter included in a legislative analysis.

Donnelly's remarks came on the same day the state auditor released a report criticizing the child welfare services agencies of Butte, Orange and San Francisco counties. In her report, state Auditor Elaine Howle said the agencies' social workers frequently failed to prepare standard safety and risk assessment s in a timely manner and that they often included inaccurate information. The audit also faulted the agencies for inconsistent follow-up on cases.

Donnelly said the CPS system meddles too often in cases where intervention isn't warranted, while devoting too little time to serious matters.

"They are literally becoming the dust bunny and dirty dish police," he said.

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly visits the Outdoor Sportsman store in Stockton on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 26, 2014
Poll: Tim Donnelly leads all Republicans in race for governor

donnellyscrum.jpgTim Donnelly leads the field of Republicans bidding to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown early in this year's gubernatorial race, according to a new poll.

Donnelly, with 10 percent support among likely voters, outpolls his closest GOP competitors by 8 percentage points, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.

Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official and the best-funded Republican in the race, was supported by 2 percent of likely voters, as was Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount.

All Republicans trail Brown by an enormous margin. The third-term Democrat is supported by 47 percent of likely voters, while 36 percent of likely voters remain undecided, according to the poll.

March 26, 2014
Tim Donnelly says past larceny case was college 'prank'

donnellyscrum.jpgRepublican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly, who has denied having any criminal record before carrying a gun into an airport in 2012, on Wednesday blamed a larceny case in Michigan in 1985 on a drunken "prank."

The candidate's case came at the end of Donnelly's freshman year at University of Michigan. He left the school, moved to California and enrolled at University of California, Irvine, that fall.

Asked previously whether he had any criminal convictions prior to the airport incident, Donnelly said, "No."

The Twin Peaks assemblyman told The Bee on Wednesday night that he was telling the truth.

"All I know is that I was never convicted, and that's it," Donnelly said. "I was treated as a minor, and it was explained to me then that it would not result in a conviction, it would result in you doing some community service, paying restitution, and if you did that successfully ... there would be no, there would be nothing. It would be as if it never happened, and that I could honestly say for the rest of my life that I've never been convicted."

Records searches in Michigan produced no evidence of criminal charges ever being filed against Donnelly. But The Ann Arbor News listed a Timothy Michael Donnelly as receiving a fine and three years of probation for "larceny in a building" in a brief item in June 1985.

Donnelly, asked by The Bee about the incident earlier Wednesday, instead called in to the conservative "John and Ken" show in Los Angeles to pre-empt the report. He complained the incident was an insignificant "prank" that happened years ago.

"They want to break a news story about a prank that I pulled in college," he said on the radio show. "I got busted 30 years ago."

Asked what he did, Donnelly said, "I got drunk with my buddy, and we left his Sony Walkman in the hallway, and somebody took it. So we started looking for somebody who might have it, and we wound up breaking into somebody else's room and stealing a stereo from them."

He said, "When we sobered up we called the cops and told them where it was and, you know, boy, they wanted to throw the book at us."

He said "the consequences were severe enough for me that I basically quit drinking not long after that."

Donnelly said he was treated as a minor and that the record was expunged.

Donnelly, one of two main Republicans bidding to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown, has said he left Michigan because he longed to escape Midwest winters and to see the beaches of Southern California.

Bee researcher Pete Basofin contributed to this report.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 5:20 p.m. to include information from Donnelly's radio interview and at 8:45 p.m. to include his comments to The Bee

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

March 25, 2014
Tim Donnelly holds less than $11,000 in race for governor

donnellyscrum.jpgRepublican Tim Donnelly continued to lag behind in fundraising in California's gubernatorial race in the first three months of the year, with less than $11,000 in cash on hand mid-way through March, according to a campaign finance statement filed Monday.

In addition, Donnelly's campaign posted $149,068 in outstanding debts.

Donnelly, a tea party favorite, reported contributions from Jan. 1 to March 17 of $182,206, mostly in relatively small donations. But he posted payments of more than $190,000 including more than $59,000 to campaign consultants and campaign workers.

Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, is in far worse financial shape than his Republican rival, Neel Kashkari, who has banked $903,478.

The two Republicans are competing in a longshot bid to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown, and they remain far behind him in fundraising. The Democratic incumbent reported Friday that he holds nearly $20 million in cash on hand.

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

March 16, 2014
VIDEO: Boisterous GOP activists cheer Tim Donnelly

donnellycheered.jpgBURLINGAME - Boisterous party activists cheered Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly as he addressed the California Republican Party's biannual convention here Sunday, a demonstration of Donnelly's continued appeal to the party's conservative base.

"We can win in 2014," Donnelly said. "I need your help to retire Jerry Brown and replace him with Tim Donnelly for governor."

The crowd erupted in applause, with supporters yelling, "Tim! Tim! Tim!"

Donnelly's speech comes after a difficult week for his campaign. The Twin Peaks assemblyman remains severely underfunded, and his campaign manager, Jennifer Kerns, left in recent days.

But conservative activists play a vocal role at GOP conventions, and the weekend gathering appeared to give Donnelly a lift.

Neel Kashkari, a better-funded, more moderate candidate, spoke before Donnelly and garnered more reserved applause. Two lesser known candidates, Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount and Glenn Champ, who described himself as a "new breed of Christian soldier," also addressed the convention.

That the candidates would be allowed to speak at all was only determined last week. The party dismissed a proposal by Donnelly to debate Kashkari but offered speaking spots. They were invited to the podium moments after the gathering was officially adjourned, a measure that prevented any effort to endorse either candidate from the floor.

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly is cheered at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 16, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders


California Republican Party convention coverage:

Kashkari is trying to build a bigger GOP tent

VIDEO: Donnelly told supporters the party needs to "reconnect with the church"

VIDEO: Both candidates addressed the Republican National Hispanic Assembly

Prominent actress helping Donnelly said she has concerns about campaign

March 16, 2014
VIDEO: Neel Kashkari, Tim Donnelly host convention parties

gopconvention.jpgBURLINGAME - Parties hosted by Neel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly spilled over into early Sunday at the California Republican Party's biannual convention, and as the booze flowed and music played, one more difference between the two candidates for governor emerged.

While Donnelly and his wife, Rowena, danced at the tea party favorite's "Liberty Extravaganza," Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, resisted.

"I love to dance," he said, "but my campaign team has forbidden me from dancing."

There were video cameras in the room, after all. Still, Kashkari said "the point of tonight is to have fun."

Down the hall, Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, was still pushing for volunteer sign-ups and donations.

"I know this is a party," he said. "But I want it to be a working party. And then we can dance, and then we can sing, and then we can celebrate a victory in 2014."

Christopher Cadelago of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Delegates file into the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame on March 16, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 15, 2014
VIDEO: Tim Donnelly wants candidates who 'stick to their guns'

donnellyscrum.jpgBURLINGAME - 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

March 15, 2014
VIDEO: Tim Donnelly, Neel Kashkari make pitches to Latino Republicans

kashkariblount.jpgBURLINGAME - Neel Kashkari told Latino Republicans on Saturday that he is making Spanish-language media a priority in his campaign for governor, while his GOP rival, Tim Donnelly, said "we have to stop pandering" to different segments of the electorate.

The candidates' remarks, to the California Republican National Hispanic Assembly, came as Kashkari and Donnelly sprinted from caucus to caucus, lobbying delegates at the California Republican Party's biannual convention. The Hispanic group is significant to a party attempting to overcome years of failure appealing to Latino voters.

"The first TV interview that I did was on Univision, and it ran statewide," Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, said. "And they asked me, they said, 'Why are you coming to Univision first?' I said, 'Because I want your viewers to know they're not an afterthought, they're my first thought.'"

Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman and tea party favorite, took the floor immediately after Kashkari.

"I think we have to stop pandering, thinking that there's a different message because of someone's skin color, because the colors of freedom are red, white and blue," he said. "What I believe people want is they want to live free, and they want to get the government out of their way, so that we can all enjoy the bounties of liberty."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidates Neel Kashkari, left, and Andrew Blount at a dinner at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 14, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 14, 2014
California Republicans let media see one gubernatorial candidate, not another

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

March 14, 2014
Tim Donnelly's gun history marked by controversy, tragedy

By David Siders
dsiders@sacbee.com

BURLINGAME - Tim Donnelly, who has made gun rights a centerpiece of his campaign for governor, has a complicated history with firearms.

The Legislature's most outspoken Second Amendment advocate, he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors after carrying a loaded gun into Ontario International Airport in 2012, and he acknowledged recently that the gun was not registered in his name.

As he's traveled the state in recent months, he has handled and fired guns at campaign events, raising questions about whether he was complying with the terms of his probation.

He has also experienced tragedy, the death of a family member following a gun-related arrest. His brother Paul E. Donnelly hanged himself in a Laurens County, S.C., jail in 2000 after he was arrested on charges that included assault with intent to kill, according to records reviewed by The Bee.

In a lengthy interview with The Bee on Friday, Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, talked about his brother's death and gun ownership. What he will not say is how many guns he owns. While he said "everything that I have is legal," he declined to say whether all of his guns are registered.

"I find gun registration to be offensive," Donnelly said. "I think gun registration is simply so that someday the government can confiscate it."

March 14, 2014
Actress featured by Tim Donnelly expresses concern about campaign

timdonnellyvideo.jpgBURLINGAME - Maria Conchita Alonso, the actress Tim Donnelly has appeared with at campaign events and featured in a web ad, still thinks Donnelly would be a good governor, but campaign developments in recent weeks have given here some pause.

As she prepares to join Donnelly for a party at the California Republican Party's biannual convention this weekend, Alonso said in a telephone interview Friday that she is concerned about this week's departure of Donnelly's campaign manager, Jennifer Kerns, and a tweet in which Donnelly compared President Barack Obama's gun control policies to those of leaders such as Adolf Hitler.

"This is something that I've got to talk to him about," she said. "I want to hear first what he has to say before I can make a comment."

Alonso appeared with Donnelly in a bilingual web ad in January that gained thousands of hits for its quirkiness and brash language. Her support is considered significant to Donnelly, a former member of the anti-illegal immigration Minuteman Project, in appealing to Latino voters.

Donnelly told supporters in an email that Alonso would be the special guest his "Liberty Extravaganza" party at the convention on Saturday night.

The Venezuelan-raised actress said she will focus her remarks at the party on events in Venezuela.

"I've read certain things about what's going on with Tim," she said. "I spoke to him, I spoke to the other people, but we have to sit down and talk ... what and if the next step is going to be."

She said, "I do like him, I do believe in him, that he can do a good job, but there have been some issues that we need to just sit down and discuss."

PHOTO: An image from a Tim Donnelly web ad shows the candidate with actress Maria Conchita Alonso.

March 14, 2014
Democrats meet Republican convention with a digital prod

fightfortheright.jpgCalifornia Republicans open their biannual convention in Burlingame on Friday, and the state Democratic Party is lobbing over a digital stink bomb.

Fightontheright.com, a website posted Friday, features images of the two main Republican candidates for governor standing nose to nose in a boxing ring under the headline, "The Confrontation for the Nomination."

On the left is "'Wall Street'" Neel Kashkari. On the right, "Tim 'Tea Party' Donnelly," a Twin Peaks assemblyman.

The site criticizes Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, for his role overseeing the federal bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, though many Democrats supported the measure.

It calls Donnelly, the Legislature's most outspoken gun rights and anti-illegal immigration advocate, the "designated flag-bearer for 'true conservatives' in Golden State."
The site pokes both candidates for missing voting in several previous elections.

Tenoch Flores, a spokesman for the California Democratic Party, called the site a "voter education tool."

Donnelly and Kashkari are expected to have major presences at the convention. They and a third Republican candidate, Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount, are all expected to address delegates Sunday.

PHOTO: Image from fightontheright.com , a website posted by the California Democratic Party on Friday, March 13, 2014.

March 12, 2014
Donnelly calls campaign manager's departure 'mutual' decision

donnellygunstore.jpgRepublican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said Wednesday he was "already looking for somebody else" before Jennifer Kerns, his campaign manager, announced she was quitting the campaign.

"I knew it was going to happen," he said. "It was just, the timing caught me by surprise."

When Kerns announced earlier in the day that she was quitting the campaign, Donnelly said, "That's news to me."

In an interview Wednesday night, the Twin Peaks assemblyman said, "I was already looking for somebody else. It just wasn't a good fit there, for either of us."

He called her departure a "mutual" decision, saying, "I don't know that my brand of grassroots suited her expectations of what a gubernatorial campaign would be like."

Donnelly said, "We don't ever stop. We don't sleep ... Everybody's working their fingers to the bone."

When he promoted her to campaign manager earlier this year, Donnelly released an online video celebrating her promotion and giving her high praise.

"They say beside every good leader is a great woman," Donnelly tells the camera after opening clips of Kerns running and Donnelly drinking coffee with his wife, Rowena. "I've got two."

He said Wednesday, "You go out and make a video like we did, and it makes it tougher to make the change you need to make."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly visits the Outdoor Sportsman store in Stockton on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 11, 2014
No debate, but Kashkari, Donnelly get speaking spots at GOP convention

kashkaripressclubscrum.jpgNeel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly may not be debating at the California Republican Party's annual convention this weekend, but they will be offered speaking spots, Jim Brulte, the party chairman, said Tuesday.

Neither candidate was previously listed as a speaker. They are expected to address delegates Sunday, the final day of the convention.

Brulte said he heard from candidates "this morning, for the very first time, three days before the start of the convention" that they would like to address delegates. He said he told them, "Makes sense to me."

The announcement comes a day after Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman and tea party favorite, challenged Kashkari to a debate at the gathering of party activists in Burlingame. Both Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, and party leaders dismissed the invitation.

Mark Standriff, a spokesman for the party, said, "The CRP doesn't involve itself in discussions between primary candidates in a contested race."

PHOTO: Neel Kashkari, a Republican candidate for governor, speaks to reporters after addressing the Sacramento Press Club on March 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 10, 2014
Tim Donnelly challenges Neel Kashkari to debate

donnellygunstore.jpgRepublican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly challenged rival Neel Kashkari on Monday to an "old-fashioned debate" at this weekend's gathering of the California Republican Party, an invitation immediately dismissed by Kashkari and party leadership.

The challenge, issued in a letter on Donnelly's website, came just days before the CRP opens its Burlingame convention.

"While we are both attempting to sway convention goers to ride along with our respective campaigns, it is imperative our fellow Republicans learn as much about our plans, our backgrounds, and our campaigns as possible," Donnelly wrote. "Even though we both have an 'R' behind our names, you and I have different life experiences, ideas for California, and campaign focuses."

Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, said "a good old-fashioned debate at the upcoming California Republican Party convention is the perfect place to make that happen."

Donnelly, who is far more conservative than Kashkari, is embraced by tea party activists but faces resistance within the party's professional ranks. Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, would have little reason to engage Donnelly at a meeting of party activists.

"It's our understanding from the CRP that there will not be a debate at this weekend's convention," Jessica Ng, a Kashkari campaign spokeswoman, said in an email. "That being said, Neel looks forward to continuing to share with voters his vision for California, and there will surely be many opportunities for voters to hear from him and all the gubernatorial candidates in the coming months, including in a debate setting."

Mark Standriff, a spokesman for the party, said, "The CRP doesn't involve itself in discussions between primary candidates in a contested race."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly visits the Outdoor Sportsman store in Stockton on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

March 7, 2014
Neel Kashkari got stock payment, World Series ticket

kashkaripressclubscrum.jpgNeel Kashkari reported receiving salary of more than $100,000 from Newport Beach-based Pacific Investment Management Co. last year, while holding no reportable investments, according to a financial disclosure filed Friday.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate's salary payment, the exact amount of which is not required to be disclosed, came in the form of a lump sum payment of stock Kashkari earned while at the firm, his campaign said. Kashkari left the job in January 2013.

Kashkari reported that in October, friends Lew and Kelly Jacobs gave him a baseball ticket worth $1,500 and a football ticket worth $100, and they paid $3,146 for a flight and hotel to attend the games. Kashkari's campaign said the baseball ticket was for a World Series game, and the football ticket to see the Cleveland Browns.

Kashkari's disclosure noted the gifts and travel payments were received before Kashkari became a candidate for governor "and are therefore reportable, but not subject to limits."

In June 2013, Accel-KKR, a Menlo Park-based private equity firm, paid $2,775 in flight, hotel and meals for Kashkari, who traveled to Denver to give a speech.

Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official and Goldman Sachs executive, has put his net worth at less than $5 million, not enough to self-finance his campaign.

March 6, 2014
Kashkari: Brown's legacy is 'destruction of the middle class'

kashkaripressclub.jpgLeveling his most partisan attack yet in California's gubernatorial campaign, Republican Neel Kashkari on Thursday accused Democrats around the nation of "actively fighting against poor, black and brown kids" while, in California, he said Gov. Jerry Brown has destroyed the middle class.

In a speech to the Sacramento Press Club, the former U.S. Treasury Department official faulted Brown for unemployment, public education problems and the state's nation-high poverty rate.

"Jerry Brown's legacy is the destruction of the middle class of California," Kashkari said.

Kashkari and Tim Donnelly, an assemblyman from Twin Peaks, are the main Republicans competing in an uphill effort to unseat Brown, a third-term Democrat.

Kashkari, who has made education a focus of his campaign, said there are examples in which the "Democratic establishment" is "actively fighting against poor, black and brown kids," criticizing the U.S. Justice Department's involvement in a voucher program in Louisiana and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's policies on charters schools in his city.

Kashkari has not provided detailed policy proposals of his own, but he said he will release education and jobs plans "soon." He said he has not released them yet because "most voters aren't paying attention to the election yet, and we want to roll these out when people are paying attention."

February 28, 2014
VIDEO: Jerry Brown files for re-election: 'I like this kind of work'

brownfiling.jpgOAKLAND - Forty years after he first ran for governor, Jerry Brown, now 75 and with a lifetime of politics behind him, strode into a dimly lit elections office Friday and filed paperwork one more time.

"I just completed the papers to run for re-election," the third-term Democrat told reporters down the hall. "I do so with humility and a realization that there's a great responsibility in the work that lies ahead."

The filing follows months of fundraising and his widely expected announcement the previous day that he would seek re-election to an unprecedented fourth term. Brown is the clear frontrunner in a race against two Republicans in this Democratic-leaning state.
Brown did not mention either of his challengers by name, and he suggested he may not ever - at least not until after the primary election in June.

"No, not yet," Brown said when asked if he had an opinion about the Republicans, Neel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly. "I don't want to comment until, certainly until filing is closed, certainly not until after the primary, and even then we can talk about it."

Brown said wants to keep working on the state budget and on the implementation of education funding and prison policy changes he has overseen during his third term.
"Frankly, I like the work," he said. "I understand what it is."

Brown was joined in Oakland by first lady Anne Gust Brown and his political consultants Ace Smith and Dan Newman, whose company, SCN Strategies, ran Brown's ballot initiative campaign to raise taxes in 2012.

Brown and Earl Warren are the only California governors ever elected to three terms, and Brown, governor before from 1975 to 1983, would be the only one elected to four. Term limits preclude him from running for a fifth term, and he has said he does not plan to run again for president.

But Brown could not say that this would be his final run for office.

"I'm not going to say it's the last race, because there's always some races around," Brown said.

The former secretary of state, attorney general and mayor of Oakland said he gathered signatures for his re-election paperwork at Oakland's city hall, for example, and that it seemed an "exciting place to be."

Unless he loses and runs again, however, this will be Brown's last campaign for governor, a fact he appeared to take with some regret.

"I had the experience of ... walking through the governor's office and realizing the years go by so fast, and pretty soon it's time to leave," Brown said. "I like this kind of work, and I hate to leave."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown files paperwork for re-election in Oakland on Feb. 28, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 21, 2014
Prosecutor: Tim Donnelly won't face legal action for gun use

donnellygunstore.jpgTim Donnelly will not face legal action in San Bernardino County for his heavily publicized use of firearms at campaign events in recent weeks, the local prosecutor saying Friday that terms of Donnelly's probation do not prohibit such activities.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office said last week that it was "looking into" the Republican gubernatorial candidate's firing and handling of guns at a gun store and gun range, after the Twin Peaks assemblyman pleaded no contest in 2012 to two misdemeanor charges related to the discovery of a firearm in his carry-on bag at Ontario International Airport.

One of the conditions of his probation is that he not "personally use, own or possess any firearm that is not registered to him."

In a written statement Friday, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said the terms of Donnelly's probation were "never intended to apply to shooting at a gun range" and that "no further action will be taken."

"This matter is closed, and no further comment will be made," Ramos said. "I will not allow our office to be used for political purposes."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly visits the Outdoor Sportsman store in Stockton on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 20, 2014
Gun owner Kashkari says he's not running on Second Amendment agenda

kashkarisacstate.jpgNeel Kashkari said Wednesday that he owns four guns and supports gun rights but is "not running on an agenda of the Second Amendment," highlighting a contrast with Tim Donnelly, the other main Republican running for governor.

"If you're a single issue voter, and you just want someone to give you a full capacity assault rifle magazine, God bless you, you can go vote for somebody else," Kashkari told a group of college Republicans at California State University, Sacramento. "I'm not your guy."

Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, is the Legislature's most outspoken gun rights advocate. He pleaded no contest in 2012 to two misdemeanor gun charges related to the discovery of a loaded firearm in his carry-on bag at a Southern California airport, and he has used publicity around the incident to promote himself to conservative audiences.

Kashkari, the more moderate Republican challenging Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, said the most common questions he gets on Facebook are about the Second Amendment.

"I do know philosophically that I deeply believe in protecting my own gun rights, and that means protecting your gun rights," Kashkari said. "But I also believe that, you know, we need to be reasonable about things."

Kashkari spoke broadly against "layering more gun rules on me, on responsible gun owners," saying additional restrictions will not prevent gun violence or make people safer. But the former U.S. Treasury Department official said he does not oppose waiting periods or background checks, which he said "didn't inconvenience me in the slightest" when he has purchased guns.

Kashkari also said, "I'm not fearful of the Army coming and marching on my home, so I don't have guns to try to defend myself against the Army. I have guns for my own sport, for my own personal protection, etcetera."

Kashkari said after the event that he owns two 9mm Glock 17 pistols, one Weatherby rifle and one shotgun, a Remington 870 Express.

When a student suggested the purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure citizens can overthrow a tyrannical government, if necessary, Kashkari said, "I understand that, and I hear you on that, but if the Army decides to come in with an M1 tank, good luck."

PHOTO: Neel Kashkari speaks to college Republicans at California State University, Sacramento, on Feb. 19, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 14, 2014
San Bernardino DA 'looking into' Tim Donnelly's handling of guns

donnellygunstore.jpgOne of the conditions of Tim Donnelly's probation after a loaded firearm was discovered in his carry-on bag at an airport in 2012 is that the Twin Peaks assemblyman - and now-candidate for governor -- could not "personally use, own or possess any firearm that is not registered to him."

So it raised some eyebrows when Donnelly, campaigning in recent days, held well-publicized events at a gun store and a gun range, holding firearms and shooting them.

Christopher Lee, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, said in an email Friday that the office is "looking into this matter" but had no more information.

Donnelly, the Legislature's most outspoken gun rights advocate, pleaded no contest in 2012 to two misdemeanor gun charges related to the discovery of a firearm in his carry-on bag at Ontario International Airport. The Republican said he forgot the gun was in his bag.

Barry Krisberg, former president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, said "it's not clear to me" that Donnelly's handling of a gun at a store or a range constitutes possession. If it does, he said, it is "in the most marginal sense" of the law.

"It's hard to say," he said. "My initial reaction is whatever this misdemeanor probation is, the notion that he went to a gun range and used the gun at a gun range is not what those original regs were designed to control."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly visits the Outdoor Sportsman store in Stockton on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 12, 2014
Neel Kashkari blames Jerry Brown for drought

kashkarisits.jpgRepublican Neel Kashkari blamed Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday for California's ongoing drought, saying a "lack of leadership in Sacramento" has left the state unprepared for dry years.

Kashkari, speaking on KMJ 580 radio from the World Ag Expo in Tulare, called for greater investment in dams.

"We need to build more storage," the gubernatorial candidate said on "The Ray Appleton Show."

Tim Donnelly, the other main Republican bidding to unseat Brown, has also called for more dam construction, though neither candidate has offered specific plans.

Kashkari's interview came just hours after Brown visited the agricultural expo. The visit was heavily colored by the drought, with members of Congress skirmishing over California water legislation and President Barack Obama preparing to visit Fresno on Friday.

The Democratic governor has yet to state a position on an $11.1 billion water bond scheduled for the November ballot, and offered no indication Wednesday about next steps on the drought.

"You've got to have rain," he told reporters, according to a recording provided by Valley Public Radio. "Aside from the rain, you've got to use the water efficiently, you've got to have storage and we have to balance all the interests, because we have no other choice."

Brown said he is trying "to find the middle path that will get the most done that is feasible under the Constitution and under the politics we have."

"Look, if anybody can get it done, I can get it done," he said, "and I'm working night and day to achieve it."

PHOTO: Neel Kashkari speaks at an interview with The Associated Press in Sacramento on Dec. 4, 2013. AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli

February 11, 2014
VIDEO: Tim Donnelly in 'heaven' at Stockton gun store

donnellygunstore.jpgSTOCKTON - Tim Donnelly found his paradise at a gun store Tuesday.

"I feel like I've died and gone to heaven," the Republican candidate for governor said as he walked in.

At the counter, among the firearms and mounted animal heads at Outdoor Sportsman in Stockton, the Twin Peaks assemblyman handled a 12-gauge shotgun and admired an antique rifle.

"Oh, my God," he said.

Donnelly lingered at the counter, and he shook his head when he saw a customer filling out paperwork required to buy a gun in California.

"That's what you ought to be filming," the Legislature's most outspoken gun rights advocate told his videographer. "Look at all the paperwork you've got to do to exercise your Second Amendment rights."

It wasn't until Donnelly introduced himself to the store owner, Eric Johnston, that the candidate's own history with guns came up. Donnelly pleaded no contest in 2012 to two misdemeanor gun charges related to the discovery of a loaded firearm in his carry-on bag at Ontario International Airport.

Donnelly, who has said he forgot the gun was in his bag, told Johnston that all the press surrounding that incident may be beneficial.

"If you're a single-issue voter on the gun issue," Donnelly said, "you have now had my message communicated to you very effectively."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly visits the Outdoor Sportsman store in Stockton on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 11, 2014
Tim Donnelly criticizes party politics, proposes high-speed rail money for water

donnellylockeford.jpgLODI - Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said Wednesday that the state should ask voters to use money earmarked for California's troubled high-speed rail project to instead build dams and other water infrastructure.

"That is something that I think would be wise, and I think there's broad support for that," he told reporters after an appearance in Lodi.

Donnelly said the state should also explore water desalinization.

Donnelly and Neel Kashkari, the other main Republican bidding to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown, have both criticized high-speed rail. Donnelly also went after Brown's $25 billion water project, calling it "flat-out insane."

Donnelly said the water project, in which Brown proposes building two tunnels to divert water around the Delta to the south, would result in a "massive disturbance of the ecosystem."

Before arriving in Lodi, Donnelly spoke to about 20 supporters in the parking lot of Young's Payless Supermarket on a foggy stretch of highway east of the city, in Lockeford.

The tea party favorite criticized the Democratic and Republican parties, saying "the parties haven't served us well."

He said his grandparents were Democrats. Though the party has been "hijacked by Marxist progressives," he said, partisanship only prevents Republicans from getting Democratic votes he said are "up for grabs."

Donnelly, nearing the end of a 10-day push through parts of central and northern California, did not mention Kashkari, but a supporter brought up Brown.

"What do you think your chances are against him?" she asked.

Said Donnelly: "No, you should be asking, 'What are his chances against me?'"

PHOTO: Republican Tim Donnelly speaks with supporters at a rally in Lockeford on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 10, 2014
VIDEO: GOP candidates talk regulation, education and the utility of a gun

kashkariforum.jpgNeel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly crossed paths Sunday.

Drama? None.

In brief presentations at a meeting of the California Federation of Republican Women, the GOP candidates for governor offered familiar remarks — Kashkari on jobs and education, Donnelly on jobs and government regulation — and each wrapped without mentioning the other.

Yet there are other, lesser-known Republicans who have also filed statements of intention to run, and one of them was given a spot in the speaking order right between the party's main acts.

Glenn Champ, who describes himself on his website as "a new breed of Christian soldier moving forward in the army of the Lord," told a story about two brothers, both of whom are tea party farmers who get audited by the IRS.

The one with a firearm did best.

"He says, 'Well, I asked that agent if I could record the conversation,'" Champ, of Tollhouse, told the audience in Rancho Cordova. "The agent said, 'Yes.' So I pulled out my 1911 recording device, cocked the hammer, and the agent said, 'I've made a big mistake. Please forgive the IRS,' and he left.

"Now that's the kind of candidate we need, somebody that's going to stand up to government and tell them, 'Hey, you're out of line.'"

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari speaks at a meeting of the California Federation of Republican Women in Rancho Cordova on Feb. 9, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 9, 2014
Jerry Brown website glitch touts Republicans as supporters

jerrybrownkashkari.jpgGov. Jerry Brown's public-approval ratings may be the highest of his third term, but unless his supporters include any number of prominent Republicans — including those bidding to unseat him — he appears to have found room to overstate his appeal.

On the home page of the Democratic governor's campaign website, www.jerrybrown.org, is a gallery of Twitter profile pictures with the caption, "This site works thanks to folks like these that want to Keep California Working.

"Join Us!"

Until Sunday morning, clicking on a picture took visitors to a page on Brown's site featuring the person's Twitter profile. Listed supporters included the two main Republicans running against Brown: Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, and Tim Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman.

California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte and Republican Senate leader Bob Huff had pages created for them on Brown's website, too.

Dan Newman, a political spokesman for the governor, said in an email early Sunday that it was "clearly a glitch," in which Twitter followers were automatically listed as supporters.

The pages were taken down by late morning.

At a meeting of the California Federation of Republican Women in Rancho Cordova on Sunday, Donnelly said the error "shows too much arrogance," while Kashkari brushed it off.

"Glitches happen," he said.

PHOTO: A screen shot of Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign website mistakenly suggesting Republican Neel Kashkari is a supporter.

February 5, 2014
Neel Kashkari raises more than $900,000 in two weeks for California governor's race

kashkarisits.jpgNeel Kashkari raised more than $900,000 in the first two weeks of his gubernatorial campaign, the first significant fundraising burst from any Republican bidding to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown.

The sum is only a fraction of the roughly $17 million Brown had on hand as of Dec. 31. But it is more than twice what Tim Donnelly, the other Republican in the race, raised all of last year.

Kashkari's campaign announced Wednesday that the former U.S. Treasury Department official had raised $976,000 since announcing his candidacy last month. Kashkari has filed campaign statements showing contributions of just under $915,000. The campaign said the balance consists of checks less than $5,000 that are not yet required to be reported.

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his wife, Wendy, each contributed $27,200, as did billionaire Robert Day, chairman of Trust Company of the West, and each of Kashkari's parents, Chaman and Sheila. Slightly more than two-thirds of the total amount raised came from California donors. Many of the contributors are members of the financial industry, including employees of Goldman Sachs, where Kashkari previously worked.

Kashkari raised fundraising expectations by saying before he announced his candidacy that he had met with hundreds of potential donors, and his campaign promoted his earnings in a news release just before filing contribution reports with the state.

In an online video, Kashkari said the contributions reflect an "outpouring of support."

Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, raised less than $375,000 in 2013 and ended the year with only $54,299 in cash on hand. Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado dropped out of the race last month after raising just $517,772 last year.

Brown has not yet said if he will seek re-election, but he is widely expected to run.

The Bee's Jim Miller contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Neel Kashkari speaks at an interview with The Associated Press in Sacramento on Dec. 4, 2013. AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli

February 5, 2014
VIDEO: Tim Donnelly seeking campaign donations, prayer

donnellyroseville.jpgAs he re-commissioned a borrowed RV and touched off a 10-day push through central and northern California on Tuesday, Tim Donnelly suggested at his first stop, in Roseville, what he needs badly at this point in the campaign.

"If you can write an additional check," the Republican candidate for governor said, "please search out your heart and do everything you can."

Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman and tea party favorite, reported Friday that he raised only about $374,000 last year and was left by the end of December with just $54,299 on hand. Jerry Brown, the third-term governor Donnelly is bidding to unseat, held about $17 million.

In three speeches Tuesday - at a fundraiser, a rally and a meeting of Republicans at an Old Spaghetti Factory - Donnelly acknowledged many of his supporters will not write the kind of high-dollar checks that fill Brown's filings.

But the Legislature's most outspoken anti-illegal immigration and gun-rights advocate told several dozen supporters at a glass and window business, "You might know somebody who can write me a larger check than you can - a thousand dollars, or five or ten. Introduce me to them. Hey, I will make the phone calls."

It is unclear how Donnelly's fundraising will stand up against the other Republican in the race, who only entered the contest last month. Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, reported the first contribution of his campaign - a $5,000 check from Woodside money manager Paul Edwards - just moments before Donnelly began speaking in Roseville. The contribution reflects Kashkari's efforts for less than a full day after he announced his candidacy, and it does not account for contributions that were not immediately received.

Donnelly told Republicans in Roseville that big government is the "greatest threat to your future." He criticized Brown's handling of the ongoing drought and promised broadly to ease California's regulatory climate if elected.

Donnelly said supporters who can't donate more can do other things: volunteer, help campaign videos go viral, "like" him on Facebook.

"Most important," he said at the Old Spaghetti Factory, "I'm going to ask you to pray."

Editor's note: This post was updated at 12:30 p.m. Thursday to correct the description of issues on which Donnelly is outspoken. He is the Legislature's most outspoken anti-illegal immigration and gun-rights advocate.

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly speaks at a campaign rally at The Glass Guru in Roseville on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 4, 2014
Abel Maldonado to Charles Munger Jr.: 'WE need you!'

maldonadowalking.jpgFormer Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who abandoned his campaign for governor last month, is apparently less than satisfied with Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari, the two Republicans still standing.

"Chairman Charles T. Munger Jr., PLEASE run for Governor! WE need you!" Maldonado said Tuesday on Twitter.

Munger, the wealthy Republican benefactor and chairman of the Santa Clara County Republican Central Committee, has given no indication he is considering a run. But Maldonado is hopeful.

"I hope he considers it," Maldonado said. "He needs to step up."

Munger has poured tens of millions of dollars into candidates and ballot measure in recent years, while working to moderate the California Republican Party's platform. He helped the California Republican Party retire debt last year and supported ballot initiatives to give California's political map-making authority to an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

"If you think about it, over the last eight years, no one's done more for reform and good government," Maldonado said. "He's a good man, he's got a great heart and he's got a great resume. And I think he'd be someone who would be doing it for the right reasons, and I hope he considers it."

Maldonado demurred when asked for his opinion about Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, and Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official.

He said only, "I think Charles would be a great candidate."

Last year, Munger donated $27,200 to Maldonado's campaign, one of the relatively small number of major contributions Maldonado could muster. He withdrew his candidacy after struggling to raise money and enduring a series of campaign missteps.

The Santa Maria farmer said Tuesday he is content to be at his ranch.

"You know," he said, "there's no partisanship when I look at a herd of 25 cattle."

PHOTO: Republican Abel Maldonado walks to a news conference in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

January 31, 2014
Tim Donnelly holds about $54,000 to take on Jerry Brown

donnellypodium.jpgTim Donnelly raised less than $300,000 for his gubernatorial campaign in the second half of last year, leaving him with only $54,299 in cash on hand by the end of December, he reported Friday.

The Twin Peaks assemblyman is one of two Republicans bidding to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown this year. The Democratic governor reported earlier Friday that he had increased his war chest to about $17 million by the end of December.

Donnelly raised $291,063 and spent $286,069 from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013. His contributions for the full year totaled $374,213. The Legislature's most outspoken gun rights and anti-illegal immigration advocate struggled to raise major contributions, relying on scores of individual donations of several hundred dollars or less.

Brown, a Democrat, has not yet said if he will seek re-election, but he is widely expected to run. The other Republican running, former U.S. Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari, did not start fundraising until earlier this month, when he announced his candidacy. His first financial filing is not expected until later in February.

Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who dropped out of the race in January, raised $203,550 in the second half of the year and spent $181,274. He had an ending cash balance of $22,727 on Dec. 31.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, speaks in Baldwin Park Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Associated Press/Nick Ut

January 31, 2014
Neel Kashkari forgoes tax-cutting theme, embraces another

kashkarisits.jpgWhen Neel Kashkari told conservative talk radio listeners in Los Angeles this week that he would not immediately move to lower taxes on the wealthiest Californians, he suggested his campaign for governor will diverge from a tax-cutting theme Republicans have pressed hard in recent years.

The position is strategic, not ideological. Voters in this Democratic state overwhelmingly approved a tax increase in 2012, and Kashkari — outflanked by a more conservative candidate, Tim Donnelly, on the right — will likely need support from independent voters to advance from the June primary election to a runoff against Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall.

On the "John and Ken" show Thursday, Kashkari assured his hosts that he believes "our taxes are too high" and wants to "get everyone to the table" to discuss them. But he said, "I don't think, politically, that's where we start."

Instead, Kashkari is embracing another, equally reliable conservative stand-by. One week into his campaign, Kashkari — like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman before him — is going after budgetary waste.

"To me, I think it's critical that we start getting our money's worth for the taxes that we're collecting," Kashkari said. "We spend more than $40 billion a year on K-12, and only about half of that money is actually getting into the classroom. Half of it is being spent on administration and overhead and other things."

That should sound familiar. In the Republican gubernatorial primary four years ago, Steve Poizner promised to fix a public education system "that wastes a lot of money," while Whitman planned to devote more funds to classroom teaching and less to "bureaucracy." Whitman proposed eliminating "waste, fraud and abuse" statewide, as did Schwarzenegger, the last Republican to occupy the governor's office. Experts said the amount of fat in the budget was overstated, and seven years after he took office, Schwarzenegger left Sacramento with a deficit.

Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, has not put a number on the overall budget savings he believes he could find. But education is a focus of his campaign, and on that subject Kashkari went to his radio interview prepared. The basis for Kashkari's claim that classrooms are being shortchanged is a 2011 study that found direct spending in California classrooms declined from 59 percent to less than 58 percent of total expenditures from 2003 to 2009, even as total education spending increased.

The report, by Pepperdine University, is questionable for what it counted as "direct classroom expenditures." It included teacher salaries and estimated benefits, textbooks and materials and supplies, but not the cost of library or cafeteria workers, busing and building maintenance.

The report, produced with funding from the conservative Small Business Action Committee, stirred controversy when it was released several years ago. Now the study - or some version of it - is likely to feature prominently in Kashkari's campaign. If he can persuade voters that education money could be redirected from the bureaucracy to classrooms, he could propose any number of programs without needing to identify additional funding.

Kashkari has not released any detailed policy proposals, but on Thursday he expressed interest in vocational training and a longer school year, and he praised ideas advocated by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Since leaving office, the former governor has been promoting his "Florida formula" for public education that includes assigning letter grades to schools while emphasizing vouchers, online instruction and reading tests that third graders must pass before being promoted.

Experts have debated the influence of these polices on student achievement in Florida, but Kashkari is inspired.

"They brought more choice to parents, they brought more power into parents, they provided more accountability," Kashkari said. "This is not rocket science."

PHOTO: Neel Kashkari speaks at an interview with The Associated Press in Sacramento on Dec. 4, 2013. AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli

January 31, 2014
Jerry Brown reports $17 million on hand for re-election

brownchamberbreakfast.jpgGov. Jerry Brown raised $7.1 million for his re-election campaign in the second half of last year, he reported Friday, increasing his total war chest to about $17 million by the end of December.

The Democratic governor has not yet said if he will seek re-election but is widely expected to run. He received major funding from labor unions and business interests, including oil and telecommunications companies.

Brown leads a small field of Republicans by a wide margin in early fundraising and polls.

chart_1.jpg

Brown reported spending only about $208,000 in campaign operations last year, with most of that amount coming in the last six months of the year. In addition to various office and fundraising expenses, Brown reported "bonus" payments of $25,000 each to Angie Tate, a Democratic fundraiser, and Edward Ruthrauff, who worked on Brown's 2010 campaign before coming into the administration to be Brown's director of constituent affairs.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, has until the end of the day to file his year-end financial statement. Neel Kahskari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, did not start fundraising until earlier this month, when he announced his candidacy.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the California Chamber of Commerce's annual host breakfast in Sacramento on May 22, 2013. The Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

January 30, 2014
Jerry Brown missed voting in a couple elections, too

brownoaklandport.jpgGov. Jerry Brown's political spokesmen took to Twitter to trash Neel Kashkari when the Republican's inconsistent voting record gained broader attention in recent days, and they jumped again when the shortcomings of another candidate, Tim Donnelly, came to light.

"The governor's been a regular voter his entire life," spokesman Dan Newman said, "and the Republicans haven't."

Both Kashkari and Donnelly failed to vote in many elections after turning 18, according to voter records, though they have voted in most presidential and gubernatorial contests in California.

Brown's voting record over the past two decades is far superior. But not perfect.

The Democratic governor has voted in 28 of 30 elections since the mid 1990s, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

One election Brown missed, in 1997, involved a tax for emergency medical services.

The other was more historic. Brown was mayor of Oakland when Audie Bock upset Elihu Harris, a former mayor, to win an Assembly seat in 1999. Bock became the first Green Party candidate in the nation to hold a state office. According to Alameda County officials, Brown didn't cast a vote.

Newman said Brown's recollection is that he did vote in that election.

Regardless, Newman said, in comparing the candidates' records "you've confirmed the stark contrast."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at an event in Oakland on Nov. 1, 2013. Associated Press/Marcio Jose Sanchez



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Capitol Alert Staff


Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. jmiller@sacbee.com. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. akoseff@sacbee.com. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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