Capitol Alert

Tim Donnelly won’t enter California Senate special election

Tim Donnelly speaks to members of the Sacramento Bee editorial board in April.
Tim Donnelly speaks to members of the Sacramento Bee editorial board in April.

Former Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly for now is holding fast to his own mantra: “Patriot, not Politician.”

The unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate has announced in a statement that he will not relocate his family to run for the 21st Senate seat being vacated by Rep.-elect Steve Knight.

Donnelly, who did not rule out a future bid for office, said he reached the decision after a great deal of soul-searching, prayer and conversation with family and prospective constituents.

“I look forward to spending more time with my family while my boys are still living at home, and am excited about future opportunities to serve – political and otherwise that lie ahead,” Donnelly said.

Tea party-backed, Donnelly built a loyal following as a lawmaker and conservative candidate for governor, rallying supporters over gun rights and opposition to illegal immigration. Vastly outspent, he finished the June primary about 5 percentage points, or nearly 200,000 votes, behind moderate Republican Neel Kashkari.

Donnelly’s decision not to seek the remaining two years of Knight’s Senate term could clear a path for former GOP lawmaker Sharon Runner, whose family has deep roots representing the Antelope Valley. Runner, who while awaiting a lung transplant decided not to seek re-election to the Senate in 2012, has said she would decide whether to run for the seat in the coming weeks.

The election will be called after Knight resigns to take the oath of office in Congress.

Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago