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Knight tells Donnelly not to walk precincts for him

Knight tells Donnelly not to walk precincts for him
State Sen. Stephen Knight (R-Palmdale), shown at right while an Assemblyman in 2011, is vying to succeed retiring Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) in the Nov. 4 election. Knight said he has told controversial GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly not to walk precincts for him this weekend. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

State Sen. Stephen Knight (R-Palmdale) said Wednesday he has told controversial GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly not to walk precincts for him in Santa Clarita this weekend.

Donnelly, of Twin Peaks, arguably the Legislature's most outspoken conservative, emailed supporters earlier this week and urged them to "join me this Saturday in walking door-to-door for Steve."

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After running through a list of reasons he supports Knight and urging others to contribute to the state senator's campaign, Donnelly promised to meet walkers at Republican headquarters in Santa Clarita on Saturday morning.

Knight is competing with former state legislator Tony Strickland, also a Republican, to succeed retiring Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) in the Nov. 4 election.

Republicans still hold an edge in the district but registration and voting patterns have been changing along with demographics in recent years and both candidates have been courting Democrats in addition to voters of their own party.

Word that Donnelly was going to be walking precincts for Knight caused an immediate stir in the district.  The president of a local Democratic Club called on Knight to halt the precinct walk and a blogger for the website santaclarita.com lambasted the alliance.

Strickland also weighed in Wednesday, imploring Knight to "cancel the appearance of such a divisive, out-of-the-mainstream figure as Donnelly," said Evan Handy, Strickland's campaign manager.

Knight said Wednesday that he had never planned to join Donnelly in Saturday's precinct walk and that he asked the assemblyman not to participate.  Knight said he has longstanding plans to campaign in Simi Valley at its "Simi Days" all day Saturday and Sunday.

"There was a little bit of crossed wires" between the two campaigns, Knight said. "He was trying to help and I'm appreciative of that."

"There will be people walking" on his behalf this weekend but "Tim Donnelly will not be one of them," Knight said. "I told him, 'You're not walking.' "

Donnelly could not be reached for comment.

Follow @jeanmerl for the latest in Southern California politics news.

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