- Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said Thursday the sudden departure of his campaign manager will not hamper his push to energize activists during this weekend’s GOP convention.

Longtime Republican operative Jennifer Kerns announced late Wednesday that she was quitting Donnelly’s campaign. Donnelly said it was a mutual split.

He described his style of campaigning as one of “controlled chaos” that probably did not suit Kerns.

“Well, the way that I work is like 20 hours a day, six-and-a-half days a week, and a lot of people have access to me - way more than in a professional campaign. Let me rephrase that, way more than in a traditional campaign,” Donnelly told The Associated Press in a telephone interview a few hours after Kerns announced she was leaving his campaign.

The state assemblyman from the community of Twin Peaks in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains said in a brief interview during Thursday’s legislative floor session that he expects to get through the June primary with strong support from the party’s conservative base.

This will be the first governor’s race under California’s new primary system, in which the top two candidates move on to the November general election regardless of their party affiliation.

A tea party favorite and former minuteman border activist, Donnelly also is a vocal gun rights supporter and social conservative.

The departure of Kerns and a video producer, who Donnelly said was replaced with someone less expensive, came as Donnelly has struggled to raise money for his campaign.

Donnelly said he expects to connect with hundreds of activists at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame and has been interviewing candidates for new leadership roles with his campaign.

He said he brought on a grassroots organizer from Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential bid who has operated in all of the state’s 58 counties.

“We’re taking a slightly new direction, but it’s one that is, I think is ultimately going to win us a lot more votes,” he said.

Donnelly has criticized the Republican establishment and “people all over this state who have never won a single election” for supporting losing candidates, whom he described as safe, moderate and wealthy.

Donnelly’s opponent, Neel Kashkari, is a former Goldman Sachs employee and U.S. Treasury official who said he has a net worth of about $5 million. The party’s 2010 gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman, was a billionaire. Both focused their campaigns on fiscal issues and education.

Donnelly is often in the news for actions other than those he takes as a state lawmaker.

He is serving three years’ probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges stemming from a 2012 incident when security screeners found a loaded Colt .45 in his carry-on bag at Ontario International Airport, east of Los Angeles. A police report said the handgun was not registered to him.

Last week, the head of California’s legislative Jewish Caucus, Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, demanded an apology after Donnelly posted a photo message on Twitter comparing President Obama’s gun policies to those of dictators, including Adolf Hitler. Donnelly stood by the comments.


Associated Press writer Juliet Williams contributed to this report.



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