Skip to main content


Some of us may consider California such a reliably blue bastion that we tend to overlook what goes on there. But the fact is the state has a long history of electing Republican governors, from Reagan to Wilson to Schwarzenegger.

Something tells me that's not going to happen this time around.

Comparing illegal immigration to a war that threatened the United States' future, GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly once exhorted citizens to rise and join his fight to stop people from crossing the border, according to audio of a speech he gave in 2006.

"I am a descendant of Jim Bowie, who died at the Alamo," Donnelly, then a leader in the Minuteman border-patrol group, said at a rally in Temecula that year. "It is rumored that he took a dozen Mexican soldiers to their deaths before they finally killed him. How many of you will rise up and take his place on that wall?"

Putting aside for the moment the question of what mishap in his toilet training could spawn such grandiose pretensions in adulthood, Donnelly's 2006 musings, made while he was playing "Border Vigilante," have done more than roil the California GOP. They may have driven a permanent stake through its heart.  A new Field Poll indicates that 34% of the state's likely Republican voters will vote for Donnelly, the "Tea Party" favorite, in the state's open primary. Donnelly leads the GOP field by overwhelming margins, despite trailing incumbent governor Jerry Brown by a breathtaking 40 point margin.  If he wins the GOP primary--and it looks like that will happen--the two will square off in November. This has prompted abject consternation among the state's Republican establishment:


[T]he California GOP continues to drift farther from the mainstream and is increasingly losing relevance as the state grows more diverse and more Democratic.

“This is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party,” said Larry Gerston, a political-science professor at San Jose State. “If Donnelly prevails, it indicates that the fiscal conservatives, the evangelical conservatives and the Tea Party conservatives control the party and leave Republicans with little opportunity to succeed in the long run.

Allan Hoffenblum publishes the California Target Book, which handicaps the state's legislative and Congressional races. He suggests "The Donnelly" will adversely impact many of the state's remaining Republicans:
“Donnelly has strong views on guns and immigration,” Hoffenblum said. “If he’s at the top of the ticket, it could do tremendous harm for people” like Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, who is locked in a tight race for re-election in his Central Valley swing district.
Strong views indeed, for a state where Hispanics and Latinos make up 38% of the population.
In the 2006 speech, Donnelly painted an alarming picture of illegal immigrants' effect on the United States. They have caused the destruction of schools, the bankruptcy of hospitals forced to provide them free medical care and led the government to abandon its citizens, he said, asserting that the country was on the brink of a battle similar to the Civil War.

The notion that illegal immigrants come to this nation for a better life "is one of the lies," he said. "At least 20% are coming to commit the crimes that American criminals will no longer commit."

He paused as the crowd laughed, then continued: "Of that 20%, how many are rapists? How many are murderers? How many are child molesters? And how many are terrorists? We don't know."

Hispanics have been alienated from the California Republican Party since former GOP governor Pete Wilson's forceful advocacy for the anti-immigrant Proposition 187. Donnelly rose to the top of the GOP ticket after the campaign of Abel Maldonado imploded. While Maldonado, the well-regarded former Lieutenant Governor to Schwarzenegger, was not expected to win, he at least provided a credible attempt by the GOP to mend fences with the Hispanic and Latino community.

That hope has been dashed.

Donnelly now leads all Republicans in the race to unseat the hugely popular Jerry Brown. On the one hand, I guess, that gives us a clear a clear picture of how dysfunctional the GOP party apparatus is in the Golden State. But really, are the pickings so slim that they need to field this guy?

Donnelly was cited two years ago at the Ontario airport after he was caught with a loaded .45-caliber handgun in his carry-on luggage while trying to board a plane.


Donnelly was placed on probation and paid a $2,200 fine after pleading no contest to two misdemeanor gun charges.

"I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe that the right should not be infringed, and it ain't about whether you like guns. It's about whether you love freedom. And if anybody wonders where I stand on the Second Amendment, let them wonder no more."

So we don't need to "wonder" what he thinks. We know the "descendant of Jim Bowie" thinks it's OK to bring a loaded handgun onto a plane.  Because you never know when a Mexican might try to sneak aboard.

Offered the chance to revisit his remarks, Donnelly instead doubled down on them this week. His rationale?

"The truth is, people will respect you if you stick to your guns," Donnelly said in an interview Tuesday night at a Republican event in San Francisco.
For the Republican Party, that's apparently true no matter how much of an asshole you are.

Originally posted to Dartagnan on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by California politics.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site