Calif. governor's race about age, experience

By Kathy Woods | Aug 31, 2009

Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)-It appears that the California governor's race will be at least partly about young versus old, experience versus inexperience.

California's history has shown that few mayors have actually won the race for governor.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Garry South, a key Newsom adviser, was quoted as saying, "These historic precedents, are not determinative, but they are informative."

Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco who is 41, is expected to run against the yet declared Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is 71.

But voters are making it clear they want a government that works, most recently when Barack Obama defeated two older and much more experienced opponents for the White House. But when change is perceived as too risky, political analysts say.

"When voters perceive change as too much risk, they pull back, unless they are so fed up they don't care," said University of Southern California political scientist Sherry Bebitch Jeffe.

In an interview earlier this year, Newsom made age an issue in his potential race against Brown, a former governor.

"The fact is Jerry Brown was governor in the '70s and I was a teenager in the '70s, or barely a teenager," he said. "We are of different generations. Who knows what that means to voters......I think it would be unnatural of me not to make that point."

Brown used the youth and change card in his early career, but these days he is banking on his vast experience, the Times noted.

Californians have tended to side with the through-the-ranks, experienced politicians as their governors. But with time times being as they are voters could go either way. It will definitely depend on the mood of the voter.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is unable to seek reelection because of term limits. Brown, who was California governor from 1975 to 1983, held office before the term limits law was enacted, thus allowing him to run again.

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