How’s Jerry Doing?

Posted on August 28, 2011 by

I became a Californian more than 30 years ago at the end of the first Jerry Brown era. 

Then I watched three republican governors, Deukmejian, Wilson and Schwarzenegger, and a “recalled” democrat – Davis – manage state government’s top job. 

So when Jerry Brown came back to Sacramento last January, I was excited by the symmetry: 

A 29-year-old neophyte when I got to the west coast, I was now a crusty political veteran, having lived through Tom Bradley’s defeat, Rose Bird’s banishment, the triumph of term-limits, the rise of the Latino electorate, the shift in legislative power toward democrats and labor’s leverage in special elections

Brown’s return at 72 “bookended” my California political experience and also gave a boost to my generation’s belief in our capacity to stay fit, active and dedicated well past traditional retirement age. 

But then Jerry seemed almost to disappear, spending his first six months in office trying to pick off a handful of republicans to keep state revenues flowing.  Giving that up, he wrangled with legislative democrats to patch together a budget and is now turning his attention to job creation. 

(In the meantime, of course, the governor has populated his administration with democratic regulars who know the uses – and the limits – of government bureaucracy.  The governor’s one state supreme court appointment was stupendous:  40-year-old Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, a brilliant liberal legal scholar nominated by President Obama for the U.S. Court of Appeals but rejected by Senate republicans). 

Here’s a clip of a recent Brown press conference, in which the governor, legislative leaders and a crowd of business and labor supporters announce a proposal to close a loophole in the California tax code which rewards companies for expanding outside the state. 

Brown’s style – ironic, self-conscious and always a little smug – is fun to watch. 

I know I’ve avoided making a judgment about Brown II.  I want to be patient while he builds a rapport and a reputation with a new generation of California voters who missed the opening act.

Comments (2)


  1. Greg says:

    He has been so behind the scenes since his re-election that I had almost forgot who our current sitting governor was. ;-)

  2. The Latino Jury is very much out on Jerry Brown, given that he broke the Arizona boycott immediately after his election by vacationing in Arizona and then vetoing UFW supported legislation to make organizing workers a much fairer process. That the Latino jury is out on this question is not my wording, but that of a prominent speaker at the California Latino Legislative Caucus Health Summit a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles. That speaker also noted that Brown seems to have a problem with talking with and listening to Latino voices and given his veto of the UFW’s bill, that is intuitively obvious.

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