Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly from San Bernardino County, who officially announced his candidacy on Tuesday for the GOP nomination for governor, visited Fresno State Wednesday.
Donnelly spoke at the University Student Union during the open forum period of the Associated Students, Inc. meeting. Donnelly advocated student involvement in his campaign.
“California has become a place that people leave,” he said when he addressed ASI. “Our freeways are jammed up with people leaving the state. And it’s not just jobs that are leaving; it’s about the people.”
He also commented on what he described as governmental overreach in prison realignment and gun control.
“The government has become the greatest threat to our liberty and our livelihoods,” he said.
Donnelly came to Fresno State as part of a statewide tour. Donnelly said his platform focuses on jobs, civil liberties and leaving California a better place for the next generation.
Donnelly explained why he chose to speak at Fresno State.
“I want to go where the energy is,” he said. “And there’s a great deal of energy at Fresno State.
“I want the youth to at least know me. Whether they choose to invest their vote with me and their time with me is up to them, but I want them to know where my heart is. I want to invite them into the campaign. I want to invite them into the conversation.”
Donnelly is the founder of the California Minutemen, a controversial anti-immigration group that advocates for border security. He resigned from the group in 2006.
In a one-on-one interview with The Collegian after he addressed ASI, Donnelly explained his involvement with the Minutemen.
“When I went to the border, I didn’t know a whole lot about what was wrong,” he said. “I just knew something was wrong. What I discovered was an epidemic of evil, and I stood against tyranny in two countries,” Donnelly said.
He said drug cartel wars have claimed more than 100,000 lives and that the humanitarian toll is worsening.
Besides drugs, Donnelly said cartels are now trafficking young girls into the U.S.
“I will never stand by and allow that to happen,” he said. “These things I have discovered— I have taken a stand from the very beginning and publicized them.”
Donnelly previously came to Fresno State to support the unsuccessful campaign to have Pedro Ramirez, former Fresno State ASI president and undocumented immigrant, removed from office in 2011.
“I had a lot of questions,” he said. “I was very careful in what I said to the student body at that time, which was, ’You know what? You guys have a decision to make, and that decision has serious ramifications. It will set a precedent.’”
Donnelly also said the gun-rights debate will have a notable impact on the gubernatorial race.
“I think it is going to be, perhaps, the deciding issue,” he said. “It ain’t about whether you like guns. It’s about whether you love freedom.”
Donnelly is expected to face off against moderate republican and former Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado for the Republican nomination and Gov. Jerry Brown if he receives the nomination.