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I had an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee last week about California Governor Jerry Brown and the 2016 presidential campaign. Brown’s pretty much closed the book on what would be a fourth run for the White House. That includes this back-and-forth on a recent episode of Meet the Press, during which he seemed to indicate that he’d be a player if he were 10 years younger (Brown, California’s oldest governor, turns 77 this year):
So why do noodges like me keep on asking Jerry to challenge Hillary — in my case, polite imploring, as opposed to The Boston Globe’s begging Elizabeth Warren (if newspapers worked this hard for readership, there wouldn’t be circulation crises)? Here’s my thinking (two-thirds tongue-in-cheek, one-third serious):
1) Geography. California doesn’t have a presence in presidential politics, other than doling out money. Yes, Carly Fiorina started out in the Golden State, but hers is a campaign driven in large party by Hillary-bashing. There’s nothing California-centric about it. From strictly an economic standpoint, it’d be nice to have a lure to draw the media west and boost the Golden State’s tourism revenue.
2) Language. Brown’s a difficult read, no question about it. Reporters I know who cover the man can’t decide if he’s charming or a bully — or maybe both. As a child of the ’70s trying to make sense of a governor likewise originally from the ’70s, I believe Isaac Hayes said it best: “he’s a complicated man, but no one understands him but his woman”. One thing Brown does have: mad language skills — a penchant for tossing around 25-cent words and Latin phrases. It’d spice up what portends to be some dreary Democratic debates, which leads up to the final point . . .
3) Sobriety. In 1992, Jerry was Bill & Hillary’s bet noir — he wouldn’t go away in the primaries, he wouldn’t stop talking about the future First Couple’s ethics (or lack thereof). This time around, Brown could be more friend than foe in that, when talking about “paddle left, paddle right” politics, he can remind Mrs. Clinton that centrism — as opposed to Elizabeth Warren’s anti-Wall Street Kool-Aid — is the smarter national sell for a Democrat not named Barack Obama.
There’s still time for Brown to change his mind. But for now, it appears that the 2016 campaign will be, to borrow a line from Seinfeld’s Newman, “Jerry-free”