In the words of California Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, “It’s a great day to be a vigilante.”
Actually, he said that on the Colbert Report in May 2006 when touting his leadership of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of California and its patrolling of the California border with Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out of the country.
But it was another great day last week when former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado announced he was withdrawing from the race for governor, leaving Tea Party favorite Donnelly, so far, as the sole official Republican candidate challenging Jerry Brown in November.
Maldonado pulled out of the race last Thursday after his eight-month candidacy failed to gain traction and Governor Brown’s popularity grew. “This by no means I am giving up,” he said, while announcing he was giving up to spend more time with his family. Maldonado was counting on the state’s new top-two election format, which would let him draw on support from independents and disaffected Democrats, to overcome his muddled standing among Republicans.
Many in his own party reviled him when, as a state senator in 2009, he voted with Democrats to increase taxes. One who did not was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who rewarded Maldonado by appointing him lieutenant governor after John Garamendi was elected to Congress. He ran for re-election months later and lost to Gavin Newsom.
Maldonado’s announcement in April that he wanted Brown’s job was immediately followed by a huge political misstep. He released an ad that blamed the governor’s realignment plan, which shifted prison inmates to local jails and probation programs, for the early release of a man who was then accused of murder. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the man had been released eight years before and the incident was not connected to the policy.
Maldonado had trouble raising money for his campaign and staffers began to bail in the fall. He announced a campaign reboot in October, but it never took.
Former U.S. Treasury assistant secretary Neel Kashkari is expected to announce his candidacy soon, but in the meantime Donnelly has the field to himself. He celebrated his good fortune by releasing an ad that will get far more free airplay on YouTube and in the media than his meager campaign finances would afford.
It stars him and Cuban-American actress Maria Conchita Alonso, who translates the candidate’s words into Spanish, sort of, while extolling his virtues, which include his anger and manly testicular “big ones.”
Alonso is active in conservative Republican circles and got in a pissing match with actor Sean Penn at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in 2011—he reportedly called her a pig, she called him a communist—following an ongoing media clash between the two over Penn’s support of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Fidel Castro in Cuba.
Donnelly’s ad was an obvious outreach to Latino voters, who favor Democrats by overwhelming numbers, as well as those who oppose gun control. He hopes to put “a gun in every Californian’s gun safe.” Donnelly would like to arm school employees, including teachers, and was fined in 2012 after a loaded gun was found in his carry-on luggage at Ontario International Airport.
After the video was released, the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco’s Mission District kicked Alonso out of its production of “The Vagina Monologues,” which was scheduled to run from February 14-17. The show’s producer, Eliana Lopez, is the wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
Her thoughts on the inappropriateness of Alonso appearing in the Mission District, which has a heavy Latino population, was echoed by Jim Salinas, a Mission resident and ex-president of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club. He told the CBS San Francisco, “We don’t act like that.” Leo Lacayo, a prominent San Francisco Latino Republican, disagreed. “It was a funny ad. That anybody would lose employment over what their political leanings are is absurd.”