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Tim Donnelly Brings Crisis Front and Center to the GOP

Minuteman Assemblyman looks to challenge for 2014 Governor's race

by Brian Leubitz

Tim Donnelly isn't one to shy from a fight, and clearly that's what he has in mind by announcing a bid for the 2014 Governor's gig. Now, Gov. Brown hasn't yet announced his intentions, but the speculation is that he will likely be giving it another go. Challenging Gov. Brown, even with the state's challenges, is a tall order that many prominent Republicans (read: wealthy outsiders) may not want to take on.

So, this is what is facing the California GOP. Unless the exceedingly unlikely happenstance of a Democrat challenging Brown occurs, Republicans will likely be free to have a free for all primary and still get on the general election ballot. That being said if there were any "adults" in the room of the California Republican establishment, you would expect that they would shutter at the thought of a Donnelly candidacy.

Let's just look at what the Republicans have here. Donnelly is a far right conservative, out of step with the California electorate, to be sure. But that is probably not a disqualifier with today's California Republican Party. But he really came to the public spotlight through his work with the Minutemen, the anti-immigration group. While leadership in a vigilante organization is always a bit tough to spot, clearly he was in the forefront. And the organization never was all that shy about talking about race and immigration.

So, this is where the CRP is headed. In a state that is a minority-majority state with a burgeoning Latino electorate, the first major Republican to announce an exploratory bid for the Governor's spot is...a Minuteman leader.  If Donnelly does get on the general election, it is difficult to see a path for the Republicans out of the wilderness. As Prop 187 brought Wilson to power, it also set the CRP on its course for long-term irrelevance.  That culminated this year with a legislative supermajority.

Perhaps there is a place for the Republican Party in California, but if so, they'll need to drastically review where they are headed.  The strategy and course they are on is great for a regional party, or perhaps a Southern State. But, unless they can find some way to attract a broader base, they'll keep walking the road to minor party status.

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