A New Portrait for Jerry Brown?

Laura Sucheski: Here’s a question that’s surely been on the minds of California political history geeks everywhere.

If Jerry Brown wins the governor’s race, it will be his second time holding the office.  And just like the President of the United States, the Governor traditionally commissions a portrait to hang in the Capitol Building.   (The Presidential Portraits, however, hang in the National Gallery or in the White House.)  If Brown wins, does he get another portrait? Could anything top his first “abstract” portrait that looks like it was painted by an elephant?

I’ll admit it: I do actually like the first painting.

So I called the Brown campaign to ask if they’ve given any thought to the possibility of Jerry Brown Weird Portrait Round II. Sterling Clifford, Brown’s campaign spokesman, said the campaign hasn’t gotten ahead of itself yet. “Portraits are so far down the list of things to be worried about, I don’t think anyone’s even given it a thought,” he told me.

No California governor has ever served nonconsecutive terms, so there is no precedent, only uncharted waters. The only American president to serve two nonconsecutive terms (and Steve Greenhut’s favorite president) Grover Cleveland, did not get a second portrait for his second run in the White House. But this is California: we go above and beyond the feds all the time, from legalizing medical marijuana to imposing the strictest environmental regulations the country has ever seen.

If he does end up winning, I hope he gets another chance.  There are too many boring portraits in the Capitol.

Official portrait of Gray Davis: Boring portrait, or boring subject matter? Is there a difference? His head is the same color as the sky.


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