"I spent three hours with him one night explaining the ups and downs of the job," Van de Kamp said. "In terms of his reentry into politics, Jerry has to succeed."
Davis, who served as Brown's gubernatorial chief of staff, had a different reaction to his old boss' political return.
"Welcome back Jerry!" Davis enthused.
'Phones Were Ringing'
"During my seven years as chief of staff with Jerry, America looked to this state for leadership. Our phones were ringing off the hook with other states that wanted to follow our lead. . . .
"Under George Deukmejian, California has come to a screeching halt. Our phones do not ring anymore. And it is no wonder."
To a less than attentive audience, Davis contributed his ideas for a successful Democratic theme for the 1990s.
"There is a new politics emerging across this state. A politics where people are coming together, taking stock of their lives and demanding their elected officials get out of the special-interest protection racket," Davis said.
Davis is expected to announce on Wednesday that he will continue as an exploratory candidate for governor. But an adviser said Davis will keep his options flexible enough to later switch back and seek reelection as controller.
McCarthy likewise faced a restless audience of convention delegates.
And in his speech, he expressed pointed impatience with the attention lavished on Brown.
"Star quality may have a place in California politics. But without the will to lead, stars don't guide," McCarthy said.
McCarthy, whose grudges and rivalry with Brown go back years, earlier endorsed the candidacy of Westly, saying that the former chief executive is not the "right fit for state chair."
As for his own future, McCarthy said at a press conference that he will wait until March 1 to announce whether he will jump into the race for governor or seek reelection as lieutenant governor.
But McCarthy is having increasing difficulty in countering doubts about his willingness to take on another grueling campaign so soon after his November loss in a run for the U.S. Senate.
And his own words are part of the reason. Almost everywhere he goes, he expresses his concern with the demands for raising money for such a race.
A fourth major Democratic contender for governor is Dianne Feinstein, the former mayor of San Francisco. She attended the convention but only to shake hands and be seen, not to speak or be heard.
She approached the gathering of the party's grass-roots activists apprehensively. Last year, she chose to give verbal support for Republican U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson in his reelection campaign, and not endorse Democratic nominee McCarthy.
But Saturday, she seemed to fit in like any other Democrat and called the reception she received from the rank-and-file "fine."
"What I've seen is that people have an open mind," Feinstein said.
The former mayor noted that for two consecutive years, she has been the front-running candidate in Mervin Field's independent California Poll. During that time, Feinstein has done virtually nothing to build an organization or foster a candidacy.
'Give It a Go'
"The lead held for a year anyway so we've decided to give it a go," she said.
Democrats also got a glimpse of two 1992 presidential hopefuls--the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri.
Gephardt cautioned against a popular bit of Democratic wisdom--that the party can capture the White House if it patiently waits for the "pendulum to swing."
"The Republicans win only if we let them--only if we fail to stand our ground and stand up, clearly and unequivocally, for economic strength and economic justice," he said.
Among the daylong, seemingly endless lineup of speakers, only Jackson was truly successful in breaking through and grabbing the attention of the delegates. The audience sat pin-still and frequently cheered the former presidential candidate.
Jackson gave Brown a boost in his comeback bid.
'The Moral Center'
"He's been to the valley. He's been up the mountain, and now he's back in the mainstream again. We need his ideas," Jackson said. He exhorted Democrats to forget the left wing and the right wing and shoot for "the moral center--the bull's eye."
Scattered through the audience were many political faces unfamiliar at party gatherings--the reunion of old-time Brown Administration officials. Among them was Brown's enigmatic personal adviser Jacques Barzaghi, former press secretary Cari Beauchamp, former legal affairs secretary Byron Georgiou and former legislative aide Diana Dooley.
Most of these people, like Brown, were not interested in party functions for all the many conventions proceeding this. They were interested in Brown.
So were news correspondents from Chicago, Baltimore, Washington and Boston, and writers representing Vogue and GQ--none of whom would otherwise cover a state political convention in California.