Brown's candidacy to focus on 'common sense'

Legal News Line Apr. 13, 2009, 12:41pm

Jerry Brown (D)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown spoke at length about how his candidacy for governor in 2010 last week, and again parsed with "if I run," would be a campaign for "common sense."

Brown talked with Calbuzz, a newly created political commentary Web site founded by two veteran leaders of the Bay Area journalism community, telling the authors, Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine, "I'm going to be an apostle for common sense."

Brown still hasn't officially announced his candidacy to replace termed-out Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but for close to a year has been widely perceived as an early front-runner in the race, and has been an active fundraiser to build a war chest sufficient for a statewide governor's race.

Brown, who just turned 71-years-old last week, told Calbuzz that the chance to governor differently this time appealed to him. At the age of 36, Brown won the first of two terms as governor. Term limits, enacted after this time in office, do not apply to him, allowing him to run for an unprecedented third term, three decades removed from his last time in office.

"Then I emphasized new ideas, now I would emphasize management more," he said in the interview. "It was very exciting them, but without losing that sense of innovation, I'd be more practical-minded, very detailed, focused on follow-through and consensus building ... I'd be looking for people who are seasoned administrators."

More importantly, Brown said he would offer the state an experienced hand that could deal with the political intractable left and right legislators whose ideological differences have helped create historic budget impasses and rapidly rising deficits in recent years.

As a disciple of common sense, Brown said he would "disabuse them of their ill-conceived predilections."

As for himself, Brown, long known as a strong ideological liberal who rarely resisted the temptation to buck the party line, said he is different than perceived.

"In my bones, I'm not that partisan. I'm an independent thinker. That's my tradition."

Brown also tipped off his platform for the coming campaign, again if he runs, saying he would focus on education reform, prison reform, renewable energy and water policy.

Brown also offered tepid support for California's Proposition 1 A, the main budget compromise passed by the Legislature in March to shore up the state's $40 billion deficit. The amendment has divided party lines among potential opponents of Brown both from within the party and within the GOP.

According, to Calbuzz, Democrat John Garamendi opposes Prop 1A, which will go before the voters on a May 19 special election as does Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. Republican Tom Campbell supports the Proposition, along with Democrats Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villargairosa.

Brown said the proposition, which imposes a spending cap on government while extending billions in tax increases, is "the best they could to come up with something."

With the election fast approaching, each of the potential gubernatorial candidates have offered various degrees of support or opposition, but like Brown, none too ardently. Schwarzenegger is tasked with getting the propositions passed by the electorate. Analysts have said no other options are likely, and businesses are offering support in hopes of averting a complete collapse of the state's finances.

With poll numbers sagging, Schwarzenegger is taking a more stealth approach to the campaigning for the propositions, according to published reports.

"The onetime master of Hollywood marketing is stepping back from the spotlight, campaigning as part of a broad coalition rather than the star player he has often been in the past," the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.

Schwarzenegger is expected to leave the intimate personal appeals for budget support to those who could be most impacted by the propositions failures: firefighters, teachers, and others impacted by declining social services.

The challenge will be to help voters, angry with the sad state of the state's financial affairs, to back what many will tout as simple tax increases. For example, the sales tax went up April 1, drawing immediate harsh criticism from people already struggling to make ends meet.

"The budget thing is complicated and it is daunting," Brown said.

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