California state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) had a two-word response when asked about Karl Rove's warning that he'd be "very problematic" as a gubernatorial nominee for the party: "Karl who?"


Donnelly, a gaffe-prone hard-line conservative, knocked the GOP establishment as the reason California Republicans haven't been winning elections.

He called Rove "the architect of the destruction of the conservative movement" and said establishment Republicans wanted to stop him "because I got here without their permission, and they can't control me." He described former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's (R) campaign as an "epic fail" in an interview on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown."

Establishment Republicans including Rove, former California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have been sounding the alarm about Donnelly, who has a long history of controversy. They worry he could hurt other Republicans and the party brand if he wins nomination.

Donnelly has made inflammatory remarks about immigrants and gun control, and accused his opponent, establishment Republican candidate Neel Kashkari, of wanting to submit to "Sharia, Islamic" banking law. Kashkari had a slight edge over Donnelly in the latest poll as the two vie to face California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) this fall.