A tea party California Assemblyman has become the first Republican to officially enter the 2014 governor’s race. Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown is widely considered the frontrunner, assuming he decides to run for a record fourth term. But the race to face Brown in California’s new “top two” primary system is wide open.
Pictures of California and the slogan “Patriot not politician” blazed across the campaign RV parked in front of the state Capitol. Tea party Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is traveling the state to announce he’s in next year’s governor’s race.
“If you want higher taxes and you believe in redistribution of wealth, you’ve got your guy,” Donnelly told a group of reporters outside his RV Thursday. “His name’s Jerry Brown. He’s a Marxist progressive. If you want freedom, if you want the government out of your way, then you have a crystal clear choice. His name’s Tim Donnelly.”
Donnelly is the first Republican – and likely the most conservative – to make his candidacy official.
His best-known challenger will likely be former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado.
“I think that I’ve demonstrated that I’m pragmatic, I’m open-minded, and I believe in governing. And I think that’s what the people of California are looking for – someone who can get down and find solutions to the problem that our state is having,” Maldonado says.
A third Republican laying the groundwork to run is former Bush and Obama Treasury official Neel Kashkari.
GOP consultant Kevin Spillane says Donnelly is a skilled politician, but many Republicans worry he might hurt the party’s image if he advances to face Brown in California’s “top two” primary.
“I think there’ll be a real effort, ultimately, depending on how close Donnelly is, to try to prevent him from emerging as the top Republican candidate in the field. I think you’ll see voters coalesce around the candidate who would be most likely to prevent that from happening before the primary election.” says Spillane.
Still, with Maldonado and Kashkari generally considered moderates and Donnelly the lone conservative, there are conceivable paths for all three to finish in the top two next June.