Buzz builds for Brown ’16

Buzz builds for Brown ’16

Is the fourth time the charm for Gov. Jerry Brown’s presidential aspirationsBrown president 1976? The question may well have more to do with politics at the national level than the state level. Believe it or not, a fresh round of chatter and interest is springing up around the idea of yet another presidential run for Brown.

With a strong headwind going into his bid for an unprecedented fourth term as governor, Brown has demonstrated a few key characteristics that would make him a viable option for Democrats. He’s broadly popular. His base of political power is stable. He’s got name recognition. And he’s not lacking on executive experience.

But that’s just the beginning of the speculation surrounding Brown. Earlier this year, he dismissed a presidential run outright, telling the Los Angeles Times it was “not in the cards” — “unfortunately.” More recently he’s changed his tune, however cryptically.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Brown complicated the picture considerably.

What if?

First, he reaffirmed that Hillary Clinton has an overwhelming advantage going into 2016. “She has this if she wants,” he said.

But then he said, perhaps strangely, that it would be “a little silly” for him to sit on the sidelines if “no one runs.”

Finally, he added that primary races for president are “never good for general elections.” That view is shared in every election year by every party establishment that controls the White House. It’s also evident that, if Clinton did pass on a White House run, other Democrats would take the bait.

Likely candidates range from big-name figures popular with the base, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to lesser-known names with a less activist reputation, such as Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Even Vice President Joe Biden is thought to hold out interest in a run.

At the same time, Brown knows as well as any inside-the-Beltway analyst that at least some presumptive Democratic candidates would consider challenging Hillary Clinton even if she does move forward with a presidential bid. She’s been beaten by an underdog candidate before — then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008.

This time around, Clinton is more experienced — but she’s also road weary, and her political brand isn’t as fresh or powerful as it used to be. Clinton’s recent and massive book tour aroused more speculation and scenario-building than it did enthusiasm. Her political machine is unparalleled, but she lacks that intangible sense of being of-the-moment.

If Clinton won’t run, then Democrats will suddenly become very interested in finding a candidate who could quickly discourage others from drawing the party into a protracted, damaging primary battle. Vice President Joe Biden could be such a candidate. But he’s as close as can be to the Obama administration. Given Obama’s current ratings, that’s a significant liability in the general election.

About a third of voters are already saying their vote in the midterm elections this November will be a symbolic vote “against” the president. Handing the nomination to Biden would be for Democrats a bit like Republicans choosing Dick Cheney in 2008. They’d be obliged to run a referendum on Obama’s legacy.

Setting Biden aside, Democrats find themselves short on elder statesmen — well-known, senior, active officeholders. Plenty of younger, ambitious politicos are out there, but whatever their appeal, they lack the ability to quickly sew up a primary race. Republicans will be facing a fascinating but risky primary season free-for-all in 2016, which gives Democrats all the more reason to unite around a seasoned nominee as quickly as possible.

And that’s where Brown comes in.

A long history

The man called “Gov. Moonbeam” by his detractors has seen it all. He first sought his party’s presidential nomination in 1976, then tried again in 1980.

In 1992, he made exactly the kind of trouble Democrats want to avoid in 2016, trash-talking rival Bill Clinton, and winning enough primaries to create a headache at the national convention. There, he refused to accept the party platform composed by Clinton’s allies, instead rolling out his own document. Its central theme? “Our democratic system has been the object of a hostile takeover engineered by a confederacy of corruption, careerism and campaign consulting.” 

That’s a message far more resonant with the contemporary political landscape than anything to be heard from Hillary Clinton. Activists on the right and the left have put it at the top of their own agendas.

Returning to serve as California’s governor required a long, humble climb. Now, however, he’s paid the kind of political dues that party establishments require in order to appreciate a candidate’s stubbornness and idiosyncrasies.

Thanks to his long track record, his media-friendly career narrative, and his party credibility in a thin field without Clinton, Brown is beginning to receive genuine attention. A growing share of California commentators, from Breitbart to the Sacramento Bee, see him as plausible candidate and a clear alternative to Clinton.

At the national level, cable fixtures like MSNBC’s Chuck Todd feel the same. The door is opening for longtime allies of Brown’s to float his name as a contender.

Former Senator Gary Hart, for instance — another mainline yet atypical Democrat who came of political age in the anti-establishment ’70s — told The Washington Post not to “rule out” his “law school classmate” from days of yore. “If you pay attention to his career,” Hart said, “you see that he does very unexpected things.”

15 comments

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  1. Ted Steele, CEO
    Ted Steele, CEO 25 July, 2014, 06:29

    I like Brown alot but it’s Hillary’s time—– I can’t wait!!

    Reply this comment
  2. michael
    michael 25 July, 2014, 07:28

    Ted, you will be will be waiting for a long time.

    Reply this comment
  3. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 25 July, 2014, 07:42

    Brown’s time has passed–he left us in CA once to try to become President. He needs to finish up this next term and forget about ever becoming President. He will leave a good legacy.

    I will support Hillary if she runs–but I wish she would just stay on the speaking circuit and enjoy the new grandchild. She has earned it. I prefer that she would throw her support over to Biden.

    Reply this comment
  4. S Moderation Douglas
    S Moderation Douglas 25 July, 2014, 09:01

    I hope we can do better than Biden.

    I’d vote for Michelle. Why not?

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 25 July, 2014, 18:27

      If Hillary runs the sniping will be non-stop. There’s not much the haters can use to attack Biden–except he sometimes says the wrong thing; he is a true patriot for this country. Sure, I’d vote for Michelle–but she has given enough–she needs to go home with her family and enjoy her life–there is no life-enjoyment for anyone who is POTUS. Same for Jerry–go home in 2018 Jerry!

      Reply this comment
      • ted
        ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 26 July, 2014, 08:24

        Yes SeeSaw it’s true– like the racist hating of our current President the hatred of a “pushy” woman President wi
        ll be about the same from the lunatic fringe right. But she is running and she WILL win and be a damn fine President. This is just what we have to o through to develop as a nation. My prediction? Things aint going so well for conservatives because they let the haters and small minds of the teabaggers to the front. And, until Repubs grow a pair and take back their party they will remain out of power— they will not get the senate in 14 and frankly their hold on the house may change over time as well as the population demos change and we the people see more and more how the 1% ers and the useful idiots of the 1% ers leave the average American out in the cold.

        Here Endith The Lesson–shuffle back to your cubicles at once.

        Reply this comment
  5. Nancy
    Nancy 25 July, 2014, 10:42

    I’d say this is a definite sign that California WILL be dropping off into the ocean.

    Reply this comment
  6. Queeg
    Queeg 25 July, 2014, 17:29

    Why fixations on Geritrol politicans in polyester belting down Manhattans and Gimlets!

    Try the young guns……Debbie Wasserman Schultz……Bridge to Cuba Rubio, Sheila Jackson…..Chamber of Commerce darling Ryan….

    Dark Horses…….Palin, Stew my barber, Trump, Rambo.

    Reply this comment
  7. samcollins
    samcollins 26 July, 2014, 16:01

    It is time for a individual the like of Joe Stalin. Greedy bankers, hang them high. Gov t pension spikers, firing squad with dual BMGs, disability fraud, wolfs in a cage. Gang member with a penchant for felonies, flogged with whips tipped with metal strips. We need a polite society, it won t take long with a firm grip at the helm.

    Reply this comment
  8. ECK
    ECK 26 July, 2014, 22:12

    Well teddy’s just a public trough parasite, so ignore his blathering, but I doubt the nation is ready for another “never done anything productive in his life” president. True Jerry’s had some “leadership” positions, but I’d argue the results are mixed. I, and hopefully most others, would like a President who has actually had a REAL job. “Moonbeam” isn’t close – a public tit man all the way.

    Reply this comment
    • T.Steele
      T.Steele 27 July, 2014, 15:40

      Oh Eck– So Gov of Cal and Secy of State aint real jobs?

      LOL tell Kissinger and Reagan Christ that!

      Reply this comment
  9. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 27 July, 2014, 07:30

    Teddy tells truth. The Sage!

    Doomers cannot handle fair and balanced reporting. Even Sutter is in agreement.

    Jerry Brown makes conservative policy on budget matters, curbed pension loop holes, moderates enviro extremism, creates a can do atmosphere moving along lock horns, fanatical politicians on both sides of the aisle.

    So there-

    Reply this comment
  10. bob
    bob 29 July, 2014, 18:26

    I dunno, Brownie better watch out…the KKKlinton machine can be pretty ruthless…does the name Vince Foster mean anything???

    Reply this comment

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