Tim Donnelly

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly is communicating with people by social media, talking to groups and campaigning via the grapevine — an effective strategy in a low-turnout election. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times)

Seema Mehta
May 27, 2014

As GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly concluded an address to activists in Riverside recently, alongside such conservative stalwarts as firebrand Ann Coulter, he explained why he chose education as his subject.

“I could talk about the 2nd Amendment, but you guys all know what I think of that,” the avid gun rights advocate said.

The hundreds of people gathered in a historic theater to hear him chuckled affectionately. They indeed knew his views: Donnelly has forged deep ties with the most ardent members of his party, honing them as a Minuteman leader, as one of the most conservative members of the Legislature and as he has barnstormed the state for 16 months in an RV bearing his campaign slogan: “Patriot not Politician.”

That has paid off so far. Despite the lack of a war chest, a string of controversies and vocal denouncements from leaders of his own party, he has led in the polls among those competing in the June 3 primary to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown, the overwhelming front-runner, in the fall.

In a state of 38 million residents, Donnelly’s campaign lacks all the hallmarks of a successful effort. There is no television advertising, no flurry of glossy mail ads and not much staff.

His bid is a stark contrast to recent gubernatorial races, which have featured a movie star, a billionaire and a storied Democratic politician.

“This is totally a guerrilla operation,” said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College and a former national GOP official, who said he could not recall such a campaign by a serious statewide candidate in four decades.

The San Bernardino County lawmaker is “communicating with people by social media, talking to groups, campaigning on the grapevine. In a high-turnout election, that wouldn’t be enough,” Pitney said.

To read entire story, click here.