Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/20/2012 07:25:24 PM PDT

In a year when new elections rules make it possible for candidates of the same party to compete in the general election, the race for the 33rd Assembly District seat is actually a match-up between a Democrat and a Republican.

The 33rd Assembly District encompasses a sprawling and rugged landscape that ranges from the Lake Arrowhead area to the Victor Valley and beyond to the Nevada state line and the Colorado River.

The candidates are incumbent Republican Tim Donnelly and Democratic challenger John Coffey.

The race, which Donnelly quipped is a matter of “tea party versus Coffey,” is also a competition between two candidates who share a dissatisfaction with government but very different ideas on how the state should be run.

Coffey described himself as a life-long Democrat and a political junkie since the Kennedy era. He also emphasizes his concerns for the Mojave Desert’s wildlife, interest in consolidating school districts to cut administrative costs and wants California to follow the example of North Dakota by starting its own bank.

“We have to understand that if this economy doesn’t get something out here other than green development and building houses no one can buy, we’re going to be going backwards,” said Coffey, who works as an educator with special needs students at Barstow Junior High School.

Coffey, a former inspector for the county Registrar of Voters, also said his motivation to run stems in part from his
dissatisfaction with watching candidates he considers unqualified or corrupt win office in San Bernardino County.

“We have to restore political viability to this area if it’s going to grow,” Coffey said.

The county’s reputation for corruption is so bad some are afraid to interact with local officials for fear that doing so could lead to their becoming the subject of an investigation, he said.

“They don’t want the feds tossing their house,” Coffey said.

Donnelly is also a critic of government. Elected to the Assembly in 2010, Donnelly believes Sacramento itself is the greatest obstacle to prosperity in the 33rd District and the rest of the state.

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