California’s Bill Clinton on the Rise
July 1, 2009
Overcoming my natural gag reflexes, I must admit that Jim Ellis is right… in part. Jerry Brown should fail in his attempt to return to the governor’s office he left nearly 30 years ago. Jim misses the mark on Mayor Villaraigosa’s decision not to run, however, as that is bad news for both Brown and the GOP.
Brown would have benefited from a three-way race, in which he ran as the old pro while the state’s two big mayors fought for the mantle of “rising star.” Now he must face a true innovator who has made a mark in San Francisco with his universal health care, free Wi-Fi and green initiatives while still improving the city’s bond rating. Brown holds a 20-point lead in a recent poll, but at this stage that merely reflects his greater name recognition; he’s been in politics practically since California became a state.
Brown’s numbers will fall as the race is cast as a battle between a Clinton-esque new Democrat and Brownosaurus Rex—the sequel to the Obama-McCain generational battle. Unlike McCain, however, Brown must contend with the fact that approximately one-third of the electorate came of age after he left office.
In his enthusiasm, Jim also overlooks the fact that both Brown and Newsom beat Meg Whitman in early polling. Whitman is a political novice who could be forced to spend millions on a bruising primary fight to get past five-term Rep. Tom Campbell and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.
Whitman’s initial reception has been lukewarm, and she has been criticized for her “pie-in-the-sky promises” that “defies economic, demographic and political reality.” Whitman could be out her league when matched against the wonkish Newsom.
While I agree this could be a competitive race, like most years it is still the Democrats’ to lose—and Jerry Brown could be just the man to do that.