A self-described tea party Republican lawmaker is testing the fundraising waters for a possible California gubernatorial bid.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) sent supporters an email Thursday asking them to contribute to his exploratory campaign and weigh in on his potential candidacy via Facebook.
"As recent as two years ago, if you had asked me if I would ever consider running for governor, I would have called you crazy," the lawmaker wrote. "A lot has changed."
A former member of the volunteer border patrol group known as the Minutemen, Donnelly was elected in 2010 on an anti-illegal immigration platform. Known for his bombastic style, the lawmaker has become one of the Legislature's most ardent supporters of gun rights and recently introduced a proposal that would allow school districts to spend education funds to train teachers, administrators and janitors to use firearms.
He made headlines last year after being detained by police at Ontario International Airport when security screeners found a loaded pistol and an ammunition magazine in his briefcase. Donnelly called the incident an "honest mistake," saying he had simply forgotten the firearm was in his bag.
So far Donnelly has the field to himself. His bid, however, poses a challenge for California Republicans, who have signaled a desire to soften the party's harsh rhetoric on issues such as immigration after years of self-inflicted wounds and declining voter registration numbers. With Democrats holding supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, the party has been pushed to the sidelines in the Capitol.
On Thursday, Donnelly asked his supporters to help him shape his agenda.
"Ever since I was elected to the State Assembly two years ago, I've had the chance to see firsthand how our state's leaders have abandoned the dreams of ordinary Californians, mocked our cherished values, and extinguished the spirit of freedom," he wrote. "All it takes is an irate minority to change the course of history."
As of Thursday afternoon, his Facebook page had 2,975 "likes." State records show he received a single $1,000 donation after announcing his exploratory committee last year.
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-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) at the Capitol. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times