BURLINGAME, Calif., March 16 (Reuters) - California Republicans wrapped up their annual state convention on Sunday with a roar of approval for a charismatic Tea Party-backed candidate seeking to unseat popular Democratic Governor Jerry Brown as he vies for an unprecedented fourth term.
Tim Donnelly, a Southern California state assemblyman who made his name as a leader for the anti-illegal immigration Minutemen Project, brought the crowd of several hundred party activists to its feet in a speech that slammed Brown, warned of government tyranny and criticized recent efforts in the state to allow transgender children to use school restrooms in accordance with their gender identities.
“I want my state back,” said Donnelly, a businessman who represents the conservative desert area east of Los Angeles. He blamed government regulation for driving customers away from a plastics business that he founded. “I want my freedom back.”
About 1,000 delegates and guests attended the weekend convention in Burlingame, about 15 miles south of San Francisco. Speakers included former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus who urged members to strike a more inclusive tone as the party struggles to rebuild in a state where it once dominated.
“We ought to frack our way to prosperity and drill our way to prosperity, rather than sitting on an ocean of oil and importing it from our enemies,” he said to wild applause.
On his first day in office, Donnelly said, he would declare a moratorium on all laws that would restrict freedom, businesses or the constitutional rights of Californians.
He also likes to try to smuggle handguns onto airplanes. There is a saner GOP candidate in the mix, but he’s already dead to this crowd.
More: Tim Donnelly Draws Republican Support at California Convention