Seeking a third term as California’s governor, Jerry Brown has announced his campaign for governor. His 3-minute long video rolls out the campaign’s slogan of “Let’s Get California Working Again” and lays out some of the key themes his campaign is likely to include:
• Attacking Whitman, though not by name, as an inexperienced consultant-driven dilettante. “We’ve tried” turning to an outsider before and “it didn’t work.” This is an inarguable fact, as Arnold Schwarzenegger has left California in much worse shape than he found it.
• Brown is experienced, but not a typical politician. He said he has an insider’s experience with an outsider’s mind, which as far as I can tell is indeed true.
• Brown will get beyond the bickering and get California politicians and stakeholders to work together – “Democrats and Republicans, oil companies and environmentalists, unions and management.” It’s a very Obama-like message, and one that might play well given the recent Field Poll numbers showing 75% of voters want their politicians to “work together.” It’s totally unrealistic, of course.
• “No new taxes unless you the people vote for them” – his press release, included below the fold, goes further and touts his tax reductions between 1975 and 1982 (his years as governor) and even the shrinking size of government over the same period.
• Returning power to local government from Sacramento. This is very popular, even though it raises questions of equity and concerns that it would reinforce existing geographically-based inequalities. It also is a big reversal from Brown’s days as governor, when he began centralizing funding for schools and local governments in Sacramento in order to deal with the devastating effects of Prop 13.
Overall it’s about what we would have expected from the Brown campaign. It’s certainly not the progressive message we’ve wanted, but he has been signaling these themes for months.
If he thinks his message of experience is going to defeat Whitman’s slick campaign, he’s going to get a rude shock in November. Unless Brown can motivate the electorate that gave Obama a 20-point win in 2008 to show up for him, he’s going to have a difficult time overcoming Whitman.
UPDATE: Carla Marinucci reports that Brown will be on CNN’s Larry King Live tonight from 6-7pm Pacific.
Press release from Brown campaign:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2009
CONTACT: Sterling Clifford – 510.628.0202
Jerry Brown Enters Race for Governor
March 2 – Promising to use his knowledge and skills to end “partisan bickering” in Sacramento and fix “this state I love,” Attorney General Jerry Brown formally announced his candidacy for governor of California today.
“The political breakdown in Sacramento is threatening jobs, our schools and the state’s credit rating, which is the worst in the country,” Brown said in an online video message to voters released as he began a serious of news interviews around the state. “Our state is in serious trouble and the next governor must have the preparation, the knowledge and the know-how to get California working again. That is what I offer and that’s why I’m declaring my candidacy for governor.”
Brown, who served as mayor of Oakland before being elected attorney general four years ago, was California’s governor from 1975 to 1983. During those years Brown marshaled both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to slow the growth of state government, eliminate capital gains taxes for many small businesses, abolish the business inventory tax, index personal income taxes, adopt the nation’s first energy efficiency standards, and make California the leader in co-generation, solar and wind energy. Private-sector jobs grew at almost double the national rate.
“When I was governor, California added 1.9 million new jobs in eight years,” Brown said. “I know we can do it again and be the leader in renewable energy, good jobs and quality schools.”
Brown said the key to ending the state’s partisan gridlock is a Governor with in-depth knowledge of how government and Sacramento politics actually function.
“Some people say that if you’ve been around the process you can’t handle the job, that we need to go out and find an outsider who knows virtually nothing about state government. Well, we tried that and it doesn’t work. We found out that not knowing is not good.”
The attorney general said the answer to Sacramento’s problems “is not a scripted plan cooked up by consultants or mere ambition to be governor.
“We need someone with insider’s knowledge, but an outsider’s mind,” Brown added, “a leader who can pull people together – Republicans and Democrats, oil companies and environmentalists, unions and businesses. We need to work together as Californians first. And at this stage in my life, I’m prepared to focus on nothing else but fixing this state I love.”
Brown explained that he has seen state government “from every angle.”
“I’ve seen our government…when it works and when it doesn’t work. And it’s no secret that Sacramento isn’t working today. The partisanship is poisonous. Political posturing has replaced leadership. And the budget, it’s always late, always in the red and always wrong.”
Brown said that if elected he will be guided by three “governing principles.”
“First, I’ll tell you the truth. No more smoke and mirrors on the budget. No more puffy slogans and platitudes. You deserve the truth and that’s what you’ll get from me. Second, in this time of recession when people are financially strapped, there will be no new taxes unless you the people vote for them. Third, we have to downsize state government from Sacramento and return decisions and authority to the cities, to the counties and to local schools.”
As governor, Brown consistently had budgets approved on time and built a prudent budget surplus to serve as a “rainy day fund”. He reduced the number of state employees per 1,000 Californians from 9.6 in 1975 to 9.2 in 1982. The tax burden for California residents declined from $6.90 per $100 of income in 1975 to $6.72 in 1982.
Following the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which cut property taxes collected by local governments by 2/3, Brown used the state’s “rainy day fund” to help local school districts, police and fire departments, cities and counties maintain essential services. Proposition 13 author Howard Jarvis said, “I knew Gov. Brown was the man who could make it work.”
While curbing the growth of state government, Brown instituted cutting-edge environmental protections that became guidelines for the nation to follow. He strengthened the California Coastal Commission and established comprehensive policies governing development along the coast. He signed the nation’s first legislation requiring high school students to demonstrate basic proficiency before graduation. State funding for higher education, including community colleges, more than doubled during Brown’s eight years as governor.
From 1999 to 2007, Brown served as Mayor of Oakland, bringing 10,000 new residents to the city, attracting more than 200 new businesses to Oakland, and cutting the number of serious crimes by over 30 percent.
“These are really serious times, but our state is still the best place on earth to live and to raise a family,” Brown said. “Our businesses lead the world in technology and innovation. Our natural environment is second to none. By making the tough decisions now, we can get through this crisis leaner and more efficient, poised for a comeback that will lead to a whole new period of prosperity. That’s what drives my candidacy. But it’s not going to happen overnight or with empty promises and photo ops. It takes patience and courage. But, together, we can all get California working again.”
Transcript of Video can be found here: http://www.jerrybrown.org/Tran…
Jerry Brown’s Biography can be found here: http://www.jerrybrown.org/Bio0…