Capitol Alert

Donald Trump names Sacramento strategist as state director

With the presidential race heating up in California, Republican Donald Trump on Tuesday named veteran GOP strategist Tim Clark as his state director.

Clark has more than two decades of experience running statewide and district campaigns, and will take a leave of absence as chief of staff to conservative state Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa. Before coming to the Capitol, Clark guided Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s 2014 bid for state controller.

“I am pleased to bring Tim on board to organize what is a very important state,” Trump said in a prepared statement announcing the hire. “I know he will be an asset to the team and ultimately deliver a win in California.”

In a brief interview, Clark said his focus will be on harnessing the energy of thousands of volunteers to help Trump reach the delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination. “Look, this is one of the most historic presidential primary races we’ve had in the last century,” Clark said.

“There is a tremendous energy out there,” he added. “There is a tremendous excitement out there. Our base is getting energized for Trump.”

Clark, who has not lost a statewide primary race, said he won’t need on-the-job preparation. Trump previously tapped Ted Costa, another longtime Republican activist involved in the 2003 recall, to help organized delegates.

They join a race in which GOP rival Ted Cruz has spent months cultivating grassroots support across California. Cruz held spirited public rallies Monday in Orange County and San Diego and released a list of 50 current and former elected supporters.

Trump leads in public polls here and Clark said he is planning several visits.

Said Clark: “Mr. Trump intends to play and play hard in California.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

Related stories from Sacramento Bee