Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Decision '94 / SPECIAL GUIDE TO CALIFORNIA'S ELECTIONS : Governor's Race : THE DEMOCRAT: KATHLEEN BROWN

October 30, 1994

KATHLEEN BROWN, Democrat

* Born: Sept. 25, 1945, San Francisco

* Residence: Los Angeles

* Current position: State treasurer

* Education: Bachelor's degree, Stanford University, 1969; law degree, Fordham University, New York, 1985.

* Career highlights: Member of the Los Angeles Board of Education, 1975-80; attorney, 1985-87; member of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, 1987-89; state treasurer, 1991-present.

* Family: Married to television executive Van Gordon Sauter; children Hilary Armstrong, Sascha Rice, Zeb Rice; stepsons Mark Sauter, Jeremy Sauter. Three grandchildren.

Background

Every other decade, the Brown family dynasty deposits one of its own in the corner office that is the seat of power for California's governor. First there was Edmund G. (Pat) Brown Sr., the shopkeeper's son who rose in 1958, by dint of hard work, to be the 32nd governor of the vast state.

Then came Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. who rode into office in 1974 on a wave of voter desire for new faces and reform. Now comes Kathleen Brown, daughter of Pat and sister of Jerry, propelled by a pragmatic ideology that mixes her father's lust for building and her brother's sense that government can supply some hammers but not do all the construction.

The youngest of the four Brown children--she came along more than seven years after closest sibling Jerry--she had only the passing knowledge of her father's profession that is rested upon all youngsters. She describes her youth as somewhat apolitical, but it took a life-altering turn in 1975 when she ran for the Los Angeles school board.

There she found both a lust for political life and the political albatross that would continue to hang around her neck for the next 20 years. To her supporters, she was someone confident enough to question her own beliefs and on occasion change her mind. To her opponents, and there were many in the heated days of forced busing, she was a woman without a political compass, changing her views from day to day at the whim of internal and external forces.

*

When she entered the governor's race 19 years later, she was the candidate of Democratic dreams--youthful and vigorous, handsome and well-connected, possessing by dint of the dynasty a golden luster that attracted moneyed supporters and national media attention. She also seemed to corner the market on hopefulness, a sentiment in short supply in California of late. She talked endlessly of restoring the California dream, and oddsmakers laid good numbers that she would be the state's first woman governor.

But the path toward Election Day has been anything but smooth. Early on, there was the question that haunted her from the school board: Just what does she stand for? Brown issued reams of detailed policy positions to quell the criticism. She took a hard line on crime, immigration and welfare, as though the race was already boiling down to a contest of toughness. The problem, even her allies suggested, was that Brown was in danger of becoming in voters' minds the "me too" candidate, strategically fighting on Pete Wilson's turf instead of staking out her own.

*

Symbolically, there has been no issue tougher than the death penalty. Brown spent months refusing to explain her beliefs, then decided to spell out what most had guessed: That her opposition to capital punishment rested on her religious views and experience she had gleaned at her father's knee as he wrestled with it during his governorship. But, she said, she would enforce it anyway.

Whatever the troubles, Brown has cornered the market on miles spent in pursuit of her goal. For more than a year, she has circled California, campaigning by car, plane and bus, touting her experiences as state treasurer. For several months, Brown ran on the moniker of "America's Best Treasurer," a claim she based on record bond sales and earnings. According to Brown's campaign, she saved taxpayers $350 million by cutting waste and streamlining the bureaucracy. And she earned a record $4 billion on the state's investment fund.

*

Brown also points to other approaches she used in the treasurer's office that could apply in the governor's suite: encouraging state investments in California firms, buttressing small business and providing tools for families to save money for college educations.

Throughout the campaign, Brown has insisted that the race was about more than the problems of the present, that it was about California's future, both economically and culturally. She sought to make it a referendum on the unpopular Wilson, gibing incessantly that he was "Rip Van Wilson," a man who slumbered as the ship of state hit the rocks and woke up only to ensure his own reelection. She released a 62-page economic plan that covered her views on job creation, education, immigration, crime and government mismanagement.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|