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What Sort of Political Future for Jerry Brown?

December 09, 1990| Political Forecast interviews were conducted by Xandra Kayden, a visiting scholar at the Center for Politics and Policy, Claremont Graduate School, and the author of "Surviving Power" (Free Press). W hat does the political future hold for Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., governor of California from 1975 to 1982, now state Democratic Party chairman?

John Burton,member of the state Assembly (D-San Francisco):

Probably, not unlike me, his future is behind him . . . . I would think he could win a statewide primary; I think he would be certain to lose in the general election.

If he is looking for a political resurrection, he would have to do an infinitely better job than he has done in the last two years as state party chair. He raised a lot of money, but nobody knows where it went . . . .

(There was) a very limited voter registration and no real get-out-the-vote effort, which, had there been one, it seems to me that Arlo Smith would be the attorney general (Smith came in second to Republican Dan Lungren by 29,242 votes, out of more than 7 million cast; Smith has challenged the result) . . . . A major effort in registration, such as the one when Pat Brown was elected governor, and I think Dianne (Feinstein) might well have won.

My theory is that he will run around the state sounding some clarion call to what the party should be, whatever that is. And then, a year from now, he will say there is nobody who can sound the clarion call for the future of our party but me--and then run for office.

Stuart K. Spencer,Republican political consultant:

I think he will be running again. I probably felt more strongly about that prior to the last election--because he took so much heat from his own party. I think it is going to be tougher for him. He has great resiliency. He is a man of ideas, and if his ideas coincide with what the public wants, I think, in any given time, he could be successful. I am not sure his ideas are consistent with society right now, but elections always come down to a choice of people.

I would never write Jerry Brown off. A lot of people would. I wouldn't. He is a great campaigner. The same thing his father was.

Peter D. Kelly,Los Angeles attorney and former state Democratic Party chairman, 1983-84, 1987-88:

He would be such a big name in the Democratic primary (in 1992) for the United States Senate that there is good reason to believe that he might be able to pull it off. He has name recognition that would have to matter in a crowded Democratic primary.

If he stayed as party chairman--and raised as much money in his last two years as he did in his first--he could end up a hero to the party.

Forescee Hogan-Rowles,secretary, California Democratic Party:

I don't see him running for chair again because the chair is going to rotate to the Southland in two years, in 1992. I don't anticipate that he would move to Los Angeles to run (again).

In terms of higher office, a lot of people have thrown around the U.S. Senate . . . . I have asked him directly, "What are you going to do?" And his words to me are, "I'm open. There are a lot of things I could run for."

Richard Katz,member of the state Assembly (D-Sylmar):

I think his future is very limited . . . by the fact that he still doesn't understand where he parted company with the voters many years ago.

If I was taking a philosophy class, or wanted to have an intellectual discourse on the nature of politics, he would be a wonderful person to engage with. From the standpoint of meeting the day-to-day needs of the people of California, and being able to deliver services that people look to government for, he falls short.

As somebody who opposed him publicly when he ran a few years ago, I had two concerns--and I was half right. My first concern was that Jerry would tend to dominate the scene and not allow the gubernatorial candidates the forums they needed for exposure, and he did not do that, though I understand now that is what he wants to do.

My other concern was that he never was strong as an administrator, and what the party needs is a nuts-and-bolts administrator to put together the nuts-and-bolts party operation of registration and get-out-the-vote. That's where he fell on his face. He raised $2 million his first year. At the end of that first year he had, I believe, $20,000 left, going into the election year, and no program in place for registration and get-out-the-vote. That is the function of the party.

Tom Quinn,president of Americom International Corp.; manager of Brown's 1974 gubernatorial campaign:

I think his future is very bright. My guess is that Jerry Brown will be back in public office soon, and will do very, very well.

I think if he wants to run for the U.S. Senate, he clearly can win. When he first ran for office, back in 1970, and then when he ran for governor in 1974, he was the first champion in California of the move for clean politics and cleaning up campaign contributions. He was a proponent of campaign reform. I think, clearly, given what is going on in the U.S. Senate today, that would be a very potent issue again.

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