GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly on Saturday brushed aside the drum beat of criticism from high-profile Republicans who say his candidacy is toxic for their party. And he said the $1-million his main Republican rival added to his trailing campaign on Friday was a sign of desperation.
“It’s certainly not fiscally sound to put 40% of your stated net worth into a campaign,” he said of competitor Neel Kashkari’s decision to put more of his own cash, for a total of $2 million, into his effort.
Kashkari has said he was worth less than $5 million.
"I think it reeks of desperation,” Donnelly said in an interview shortly after he spoke at the Unite IE Conservative Conference in Riverside.
Donnelly, a Tea Party favorite who is the front-runner among GOP gubernatorial candidates, also dismissed recent attacks on his campaign by big-name Republicans. Strategist Karl Rove said Friday that if Donnelly was the Republican standard-bearer against incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall, GOP candidates across the nation would be forced to disavow him.
“The unprecedented assault by the political class on somebody who's just trying to represent the people, I think it has had the opposite reaction than was intended,” Donnelly said. “I don’t think it’s going to be successful, because people are hungry for somebody who will at least listen to them, somebody who will show up.”
Kashkari was also invited to speak at the conference, which was sponsored by Inland Empire talk radio station 590-AM. A spokeswoman for his campaign said the sponsors required a commitment before the Kashkari campaign was prepared to give one.
Hundreds of GOP activists packed the historic Fox Theater to hear conservative luminaries, notably firebrands Ann Coulter and Dinesh D’Souza. Many wore Donnelly T-shirts.
They roared when he was introduced to the crowd, with many waving small flags or standing to applaud.
Donnelly gave his standard stump speech, describing moving to California, meeting his wife and running a business until government regulations forced his customers to leave the state. Donnelly railed against the government, saying it threatens the very rights it was created to protect, and singled out Common Core, the set of controversial education standards being implemented in most states.
He urged the audience to join his “grass-roots army” and volunteer for his campaign.
“I’m going to ask you one simple thing. Somewhere in the not too distant future, you’re going to be looking into the eyes of your children’s children. What story are you going to tell?” Donnelly asked.
“Are you going to tell them about the epic battle you waged to defend freedom and the American way of life, or are you just going to tell them stories about a place called California that used to be free?" he said.
"That is the question of the 2014 election," he said. "What you do today will determine how that will be answered.”