Donnelly hires seasoned campaign spokeswoman

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly today announced the addition of a familiar face to his gubernatorial campaign – veteran GOP press secretary Jennifer Kerns.

Kerns & DonnellyKerns, 40, comes to the Donnelly campaign fresh from her role in unseating two Colorado state senators in a recall election prompted by those lawmakers support of stricter gun laws enacted this year.

And Kerns and Donnelly were together at the California Republican Party’s convention this past weekend in Anaheim to roll out Kerns’ new 501(c)(4) group Free California, which “won’t rule out ‘Colorado-style recall elections’ should Gov. Jerry Brown sign the gun-control bills now in his desk.

“Jennifer brings to the campaign an aggressive style of communication that will help me communicate to millions of voters about jobs, the economy, and my plan for how we can do better in California,” Donnelly said in a news release. “Her relationships with the grassroots and with statewide media contacts will help me get my message out to every corner of the state.”

Kerns said she believes in Donnelly “and his vision for standing on principle to show Californians that we have a better way forward. I look forward to a robust debate about California’s economy and how Californians have suffered over the last four years under the failed policies of the Democrat Party. I also look forward to educating voters about Abel Maldonado’s failed record on tax increases and other key issues that are important to the Republican base.”

Donnelly, R-Hesperia, has made a name for himself as an outspoken conservative opponent of almost everything the Democrat-dominated Legislature does, but his campaign hasn’t gotten off to a hot financial start -it had only $27,418 in the bank as of June 30, and has reported only $10,000 in big-ticket donations (two $5,000 contributions) since then. Then again, Republican gubernatorial competitor Abel Maldonado recently had several staffers quit his campaign and in recent days has essentially rebooted his effort. Former Rep. George Radanovich of Mariposa recently said he’s considering a run, too.

Kerns served in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration and was communications director for the last campaign to ever elect a GOP official to statewide office – Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, in 2006. She went on to serve as Poizner’s department’s communications director during the workers’ compensation crisis and the historic California wildfires.

Kerns also has been a consultant to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for almost five years, and was a spokeswoman for Proposition 8, the gay-marriage ban of 2008.

Named as the California Republican Party’s communications director in January 2012, Kerns took some heat two months later for suggesting that a female pundit who’d criticized Rush Limbaugh for calling a law school student a “slut” was herself one. Kerns and the state GOP parted ways shortly after that, although that might’ve had more to do with the party’s dire financial situation than with Kerns.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.