Poizner fires pre-emptive strike at Attorney General Brown

Legal News Line Apr. 3, 2009, 12:00pm

Steve Poizner (R)

Jerry Brown (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - First it was San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's not so veiled point of suggesting fellow Democrat California Attorney General Jerry Brown has been around a long time when he recalled how he used to sit on Brown's knee as a toddler.

Now, California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is getting in on the inadvertent roast, issuing a press release that "celebrates" the 40th anniversary of Brown's first election to public office April 1, 1969, when Brown was elected to the Los Angeles Community College District Board.

The point? Both men Newsom and Poizner, a Republican, are setting up campaigns to run for governor in 2010, an office that Brown is interested in running for himself, despite turning 71-years-old this year.

With poll after poll showing Brown the leader among likely contenders -- unless U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is considered a likely candidate; a point of some debate in political circles -- it is no surprise he's the subject of early targets seeking to characterize him as an out-of-touch retread when new leadership is needed.

Of course, they aren't saying that directly, but the point is clear.
Poizner's release, complete with a large flashing celebratory post on his campaign Web site, reminded voters of what the times were like back when Brown broke into politics.

"On April 1, 1969, Nixon was the newly inaugurated president, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were going strong, people were still using carbon paper, an Apple was something you ate and the Apollo Mission had not yet landed on the moon," the release said.

Even though Brown hasn't declared if he's going to run for governor, Poizner is quick to point out his history suggests he will.

"As Brown seeks his third term as governor, the last 40 years have changed California dramatically," the release said. "But it seems Jerry hasn't. Professional politician Jerry Brown is always campaigning for another office. When it comes to Jerry Brown and Election Day for California voters, it reminds us of the film 'Groundhog Day.' Every day is the same. Jerry's always on the ballot."

His opponents, despite all the jabs, would love to have had the success Brown has enjoyed, first as two-time governor of the state from 1975 to 1983, and again as a runaway winner in recent years as a two-term mayor of Oakland and in 2006 as the state's attorney general.

For all the talk about Brown's past, which Poizner makes sure to add includes three failed attempts to run for the White House, the attorney general enjoys much stronger name recognition than other potential candidates and a more secure base of loyal voters, all of which makes him both the early favorite of candidates in both parties, and the early target.

As Brown himself told a reporter in Washington D.C. in January, he's likely to run for governor because "I've done it before," a claim no other contender, not even Feinstein, can make.

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