AG Brown snags Feinstein's top aide

Legal News Line Oct. 2, 2008, 10:50am

Jerry Brown (D)

Dianne Feinstein (D)

OAKLAND, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown has hired U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's press secretary, a move perhaps designed to bolster his run for governor in 2010.

California native and Stanford graduate Scott Gerber said his decision to leave Capitol Hill stemmed from a desire to return home, according to a political blog by Mike Doyle of the Fresno Bee. Gerber's wife is also a California native.

But in politics, such decisions are almost always tinged with the future in mind. Brown lost his top press spokesman in August when Gareth Lacy decided to go to law school in Washington.

Adding the veteran spokesman seems, at least on the surface, to strengthen his team for what many expect to be a highly competitive campaign that should kick off after the first of the year, while at the same time subtracting from Feinstein.

Both Brown and Feinstein, Democrats, have said they are considering respective bids to replace Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger cannot seek reelection because of term limits.

Both have said they won't make a formal announcement until after the presidential election is over. Brown, himself a former two-term governor is not affected by term limits since his tenure as governor predates the term-limit law.

Brown is generally considered the front-runner in a crowded Democratic primary field that already includes Lt. Gov. John Garamendi. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom formed an exploratory committee and is expected to run unless Feinstein, his political mentor, jumps in.

Several other prominent Democrats are also believed to be waiting on the senator, who has said she is intrigued by the chance to end her political career at home.

A summer poll that pitted Feinstein against Brown and Garamendi showed Feinstein would be the odds on favorite as 50 percent of likely voters chose her. Brown, the leader in all other polls, had just 26 percent in this poll.

Brown is widely believed to have already made up his mind to run, regardless of Feinstein's decision. He has aggressively been raising money since early in the summer and told Legal Newsline in August to "stay tuned" for his decision.

The two long-time political allies are easily the best known politicians in the state and either would be considered a strong favorite against anyone the Republicans could put up to oppose them.

Feinstein replaced Gerber with Gil Duran, who has worked before for both Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, yet another California Democratic rumored to be interested in replacing Schwarzenegger.

Feinstein officiated Brown's wedding in 2005.

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