A fired-up Jerry Brown previewed his general election themes in two gubernatorial campaign stops Thursday, framing the state's present straits as a chance to bring Californians together for a common purpose.
Although he criticized Republican rival Meg Whitman for attempting to "buy" the election, the Democratic nominee's message was largely optimistic and centered on the argument that his decades of political life were not an albatross at a time when anti-incumbent sentiment has been tilting electoral races across the nation. Rather, Brown contended that his life experience could bring Sacramento partisans together for the betterment of the state.
FOR THE RECORD:
Jerry Brown: An article in Friday's LATExtra section about gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown's campaign events referred to him as California's last two-term governor. Brown was the last Democrat to serve two full terms. Republicans George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson served two full terms after Brown. —
"At this stage in my life, I don't have anything to prove, OK? I've done it all before," said California's last two-term governor and its current attorney general, speaking Thursday morning in the quad of Laney College in Oakland. "And I just want to go back to Sacramento and I want to do everything I can to pull Republicans and Democrats together. It's not a time for increasing the partisan divide. It's time for thinking as Californians first. I'm not saying it's easy, but we've had tough times before and we've always come out of it."
Brown's message came as his campaign, which operated largely below the radar this summer, geared up for the sprint to November's general election, charting events for the candidate across the state over the Labor Day weekend and preparing to air television ads for the first time.
The candidate confirmed Thursday that he planned to begin advertising next week; he declined to release additional details. Whitman has spent more than $20 million on television ads this summer, a figure partially offset by millions poured into an anti-Whitman campaign by Brown's allies in organized labor.
"It's not going to be boring," Brown said hours later, after touring an ACCO Engineered Systems facility in City of Commerce that produces sheet metal for energy-efficient retrofitting.
Brown offered few concrete details on how he would accomplish his goals. The candidate, who has roughly $27 million in the bank, said he would roll out additional proposals to deal with the state's problems soon, and said he was confident that, despite Whitman's financial advantage, voters would have enough information about both candidates to make their decision.
Whitman held no campaign events Thursday. She was at the Redwood City courthouse, waiting to see if she would be impaneled on a jury. She was later released from service.
But her campaign said Brown's emphasis on optimism conflicted with his allies' campaign.
"Just like everything else, Jerry Brown's statements don't comport with reality," said Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei. "Considering Jerry Brown's union campaign has spent at least $14 million against Meg this summer, and his previous administration had a notoriously rocky relationship with the Legislature, it's just not a credible theme for him to run on."
Brown shot back that the Whitman campaign's negativity — its ads have torn into the Democrat all summer — would not fix the state's economic woes or its dysfunctional budgeting process.
"All this negativity, all this very nasty, I don't know how many tens of millions of dollars of ads — that's not going to solve California's problems," he said in City of Commerce. "What will solve it is leadership with knowledge that can earn the trust of the people, not attempting to buy it."
The message was a recurring theme in Brown's remarks Thursday: that Whitman represented negativity, division and the scapegoating of union members and immigrants, and that he would lead an inclusive, post-partisan campaign that would bring Californians together.
"The issues that we face are too profound for petty politics and poisonous partisanship that is destroying our political fabric," he said.
In the contentious race for U.S. Senate, Republican Carly Fiorina received the endorsement of the party's new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, whose come-from-behind victory she hopes to emulate.
Fresh off her first debate with Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive and Scott Brown stopped at a GOP phone bank office in Burbank on their way to a fundraiser in Newport Beach. Scott Brown attended a fundraiser Wednesday with GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, but she did not appear publicly with him.
Scott Brown thanked volunteers in the audience who told him that they had made calls on his behalf in his race to succeed Democrat Edward M. Kennedy. "A lot of folks have said that you called, and you helped and you sent money, and it mattered — so thank you — and I'm here to do the very same thing for Carly being the new guy in Washington," he said.
"We need more new people," he said, as someone shouted "Amen!"
Fiorina briefly thanked volunteers and said Wednesday's debate with Boxer showed that the Democratic incumbent would distort Fiorina's record to distract voters from her own "lack of accomplishments."
Boxer had no public events Thursday.
Times staff writer Maeve Reston contributed to this report.