Brown ups his support for California budget proposition

Legal News Line Apr. 15, 2009, 8:54am

Jerry Brown (D)

OAKLAND, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown rarely is associated with the word "tepid."

It's not his style. If Brown is either a tea guy or coffee guy, it's safe to say he likes it hot.

So, no surprise, just a day after a story from an emerging political Web site characterized the attorney general's support for a critical budget proposition as "tepid," Brown came out in his more usual full-bodied, Columbian Roast flavor, offering ardent support for the highly controversial budget measure that will effectively create a spending cap for future governors that is balanced with tax increases to alleviate the state's critical budget concerns.

At a public press conference Tuesday in his home turf of Alameda County - Brown enjoyed two terms as mayor of Alameda County's biggest city, Oakland, prior to becoming the attorney general in 2006 - Brown joined Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in lobbying for the passage of Proposition 1A, the linchpin of the multi-layered propositions A-F voters will consider in a special May 19 election.

"If these don't pass, it's going to make the next governor's job and the people's job that much tougher," Brown said. "Partisanship in Sacramento has become poisonous. We're in a crisis in the country, and that crisis reaches to California. This is a response that is helpful."

Of course, if Brown has his way, he'll be the next governor who inherits the outcome of Proposition 1A. Brown has not yet declared his candidacy to again run for governor. But he has raised roughly $5 million preparation for a hotly contested Democratic primary where the 71-year-old former governor could be up against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and perhaps even U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Schwarzenegger, who is working for the passage of the budget propositions and wants to make budget reform a central part of his legacy as California's governor, is termed out and cannot seek re-election. Brown has already served two terms, but because both were before the state enacted term limits, he is grandfathered in and eligible to seek a third term.

Brown is a leading name in early polling, making him the early target for Republicans and Democrats alike.

Rep. Steve Poizner ripped Brown's stance on Proposition 1A earlier this week, after issuing a not-so-veiled attack on Brown's lifetime spent as a candidate for various offices. Brown has run for U.S. president three times during his nearly 40- year political career.

Poizner, the only Republican beside Schwarzenegger to be currently serving in a statewide office, attacked Brown saying, "Jerry's endorsement has reminded us that the tired Sacramento status quo offers insecure excuses instead of real results when it comes to ending the state's structural budget deficit," according to report on a new political Web site.

Poizner admitted in a recent interview he fully expects the general race for governor to be him against Brown, an apparent compliment despite the pointed attacks against the attorney general of late.

Brown for the most part has refused to strike back at Poizner, choosing instead to focus on his agenda and his Democratic rivals.

Like a rapper trying to steal the thunder of his opponent in an on-stage battle, Brown jumped Newsom's many attempts to portray him as the old-school insider during an interview earlier this week.

Brown is quick to reject comparisons Hillary Clinton, the heavy favorite who lost to political newcomer, Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

"Newsom is trying to make everyone think I'm Hillary and he's Obama," Brown said. "But those analogies just don't work."

Brown didn't get that comparison on his own. The comparison was first mentioned by former San Francisco Willie Brown, San Francisco's first black mayor, in his column for the San Francisco Chronicle. Way back in July of 2008, Willie wrote Jerry, no relation, called him to see how he viewed the governor's race.

"I said Gavin sees it as a replay of Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama," Brown wrote. "Jerry said, 'Hell, as long as I'm Obama, I'm fine.'"

Brown is making sure that message is getting out now, nearly nine months later even as he has yet to formally commit to the race.

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