The forecast on Monday from former Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr.: "Progressive" politics is coming back and so will he.
That is just as quickly after the upcoming 1988-89 elections as he can find an opening.
One thing, Brown insisted, "I'm not going to stay out of it forever."
The lay-low former Democratic chief executive, seen in public less rarely these days, accepted an invitation to address a Los Angeles meeting of California AFL-CIO leaders Monday. He was enthusiastically received by the group of 50 for a speech that steered clear of those airy themes that have been a Brown favorite and instead focused on bread-and-butter basics.
Along the way, Brown, who served as governor from 1974 to 1982, when he was defeated in a bid for the U.S. Senate, also fed speculation about his next move.
Interest in the subject has risen lately on the strength of all kinds of rumors. After all, as one line of reasoning goes, Brown has shaved his striking gray beard, therefore he must be up to something. Or, the thinking goes, Brown is being much more public now after spending last winter in Japan, therefore he must be ready to launch his long-awaited comeback attempt.
On Monday, Brown strove to keep the interest alive, but in sober perspective.
He is not running for anything in 1988, including another try for the U.S. Senate, Brown said in a hallway interview. Likewise, he expressed disinterest in the 1989 Los Angeles mayor's election.
"I'm not in the business of ruling out races, but that's not one I'm interested in," he said.
Associates have recently tried to stir up a draft-Brown movement for either the Senate or mayor's races. Brown said he was not persuaded.
"It's like a racehorse. They like you to get going, especially if they are jockeys," he said.
"It's all a matter of time," he continued. "There isn't much opportunity now. But things happen fast."
Brown went on to note that Douglas H. Ginsburg's career took him from obscurity to a U.S. Supreme Court appointment to withdrawal and disgrace in 10 tumultuous days.
In his speech to the AFL-CIO Central Council heads, Brown said the political coalition of business, fundamentalist Christians and right-wing conservatives is losing steam. This, he suggested, affords labor ripe opportunities to organize and expand.
"I think the people are ready because wherever you go . . . from one industry to another, people have been screwed and they know it. And they are waiting for somebody to fight for their interests," Brown said.
"As those on the right begin to falter and fade, then it's your opportunity to emerge and reassert your rightful position on the political landscape . . . in the renewal of the progressive forces in this country."
Several times, in different words, he likened today's decline of organized labor with the stalemate of his own career--just temporary, if frustrating, occurrences in the ups and downs of life.
"In the cycle of human events, sometimes it's for the worse, sometimes its for the better. I know it is turning for the better," he said.
Then he added: "I just wish it would turn a little faster."