California Regenerated

William Bradley serves up an expansive campaign diary style recap of Jerry Brown's win against Whitman in California. 

...the story as told in the cut-back conventional media is on the under-cooked side.

Which is not surprising, since virtually all the state and national press early on anointed Whitman as an unstoppable high-tech juggernaut of a campaign run by the best consultants in the business. Up against poor old Jerry Brown and his ragtag little band. When in reality, it was Ali-Foreman '74 all along, with what I called Brown's Zen rope-a-dope approach unfolding as anticipated.

Jerry Brown ended his campaign and began his gubernatorial transition in the place where he regenerated as a political figure: Oakland. If you want to understand the stunning Brown comeback, you'll understand the significance of Oakland as its nexus.

... In all, a fitting symbol of regeneration both for a city and for a politician...

One race I couldn't help myself from following.  In ways, the archetypal battle between the corporate-backed superfunded candidate who wanted to "run California like a business," and the quirkly, admitedly flawed underdog, speaking often about "rebirth" and "renewal" in a decidedly hokey fashion. 

No doubt my impression is oversimplied, but I'm certain the conventional wisdom circulating about the race misses the mark much further.

CA Democratic Party fundraiser Wade Randlett, for example:

Brown beat back the national conservative wave with a message that "I will be a frugal governor who will make hard decisions, who won't tax people without their approval," Randlett said. "It was a moderate, centrist message" that exit polls show played especially well with Latinos and women voters in California.

Party conditioning at it's glaring worst.  Any Democrat who won in 2010 obviously ran center, with a moderate message.

But Brown only tracked center on two points: promising "no new taxes (without public approval)" and endorsing pension reforms, vaguely stating he would like "other concessions" from unions as well.  Outside of that, Brown ran more often as a progressive.  More from Bradley:

"I want the people of California to know we will have times that are tough, maybe a year more," Brown cautioned his excited supporters in his victory speech. Then he gave the uplift. "I take as my challenge a common purpose based on a vision of what California can be. I see California leading in renewable energy, public education and an openness to every person."

Brown beat back the "national conservative wave" by saving his money until the end, running smart -- The Twins! -- and -- whether he truly will be as Governor or not -- walking and talking like a progressive, without apology.  No doubt he did appeal to moderates in contrast with Whitman's reach for the Tea Party on issues like immigration and social services, but to say this was the deciding factor in Brown's successful campaign largely ignores the majority of what was presented to California voters on the ballot.

Brown didn't win the middle by speaking to them only as a moderate.  He won them by default while campaigning foremost for his base, careful not to throw them to the wolves in search of centrist appeal.

There's a lesson in there somewhere, I'm sure...

 

 

Tags: Jerry Brown, California, 2010 midterms (all tags)

Comments

4 Comments

Good timing

Jerry Brown fully earned his reputation as a frugal administrator during his two terms as governor. Whitman couldn't touch that -- not even with a barrage of expensive TV advertising (which clearly demonstrated her profligacy). Brown was able to campaign as a progressive without getting tagged as a big spender. Furthermore, Brown ignored all the anxious people who wanted him to go on the air with expensive ad buys during the summer months when Whitman was a constant (and irksome) media presence. He bided his time and conserved his resources while Whitman engaged in overkill. I was at a small meet-and-greet where Sen. Boxer told the attendees to be patient with Jerry, that he knew what he was doing. It sure looks like she was right.

by Zeno 2010-11-23 08:27AM | 0 recs
I agree - he's a good governor

Unfortunately, for our state, another good, democrat ex-governor ran and was defeated.  In politics, the good guy is not always the guy who wins the race. This race, however, was all about who was going to represent the people more - and listen to the will of the people.

 

I feel that the concept that a state should be run 'as a business' is not a good thing. To be sure, I like fiscal conservatism. I like fiscal discipline. I think that states should be kept financially strong and should only spend where it is going to get ROI, and try to keep things in line. But I also feel that , socially and from a statesmanship perspective - 'running a state as a business' brings some bad things to the table - not the least of which, is the fact that all companies are run, essentially - as benevolent dictatorships. A business is not a democracy. The CEO sets the tone of the business and drives it onward.   Good companies listen to their employees, to be sure - and employee-owned companies, just like companies with positive union presence - are usually more stable and more prosperous and better places to work.

 

But most companies, by and large, follow the direction of their leadership without a vote.

 

That's also why I feel companies should not be allowed to masquerade as people and be afforded equivalent rights as a voting citizen - they make their presence known over a span of the power of several votes and several combined perspectives that usually add up to the vision of one person.  Who really doesn't set much out to a vote. This consolidates voting power, and moves it into a place where the single vote of an American citizen doesn't matter.

 

And thats just not cool.

 

by Trey Rentz 2010-11-23 11:01AM | 0 recs
RE: California Regenerated

When that lil town in CA was in the news for overpaying their mayor and a couple of other officials , Jerry Brown did not hesitate to bash that waste of taxpayer spending. I think the big blunder of the democratic party has been that their leaders hve not been front and center emphasizing accountability when in reality both parties are guilty of letting waste slide by. But the Republicans somehow monopolize the "hold government accountable" message.

 

Asking to cut wasteful spending is not AGAINST liberal values. Other than a few perfunctory hits at wasteful military spending, liberals in general have spent more time complaining about tax cuts instead of complaining about government waste. It's time progressives use that as their main message instead of whining about the need for more taxes all day long. Progressive leaders should have pressed for a bill  framing it as a middle class cut, instead of as a rich class tax hike in a unified voice. It's all about how frame the message.

You need to do both  to cut the deficit - cut spending and raising taxes. If you cut spending first, you buy some trust from the public. If you talk about raising taxes first, you lose the benefit of that doubt.

by Pravin 2010-11-23 03:20PM | 0 recs
Ground game?

I am curious, since the Mass Dems and Chair John Walsh are getting a lot of publicity about the old-fashioned GOTV and voter engagement effort this election, what the Cali Dems did/didn't do in terms of field organizing and ground game. Anything different? Did it make a difference? 

 

 

 

by LetsGoBlueBobMA 2010-11-23 04:30PM | 0 recs

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