March 2, 2010
Associated Press photo
Jerry Brown formally announced his candidacy for governor of California in a video message on his website today.
“We’re supposed to believe that a rich person who never has held elected office would make a great governor, but look at how great Repugnican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned out,” I wrote yesterday in reporting that Jerry Brown would announce his candidacy for the governorship of California today.
This seems to be one of the main lines of attack that Brown is going to make in his battle against billionaire Repugnican candidate Nutmeg Whitman.
Today, in making his formal announcement, Brown said, “Our state is in serious trouble, and the next governor must have the preparation and the knowledge and the know-how to get California working again. That’s what I offer, and that’s why I’m declaring my candidacy for governor.”
Brown also sought to use voters’ frustration with [Repugnican] Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who came into office without having been elected [to any political office] before the 2003 [gubernatorial] recall [election], to argue against repeating that pattern with Whitman, and to a lesser degree, the other GOP contender, one-term Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.
“Some people say that if you’ve been around the process, you can’t handle the job, that we need to go out and find an outsider who knows virtually nothing about state government,” Brown said.
“Well, we tried that, and it doesn’t work. We found out that not knowing is not good.”
In a poll taken last month, Brown and Whitman were neck and neck, at 43 percent each.
However, Whitman declared her candidacy a while ago, while Brown didn’t make it official until today, so last month’s poll was taken when Brown wasn’t even an official candidate. Further, Whitman, who thus far has put about $40 million of her own money into her campaign, has been spending millions of dollars campaigning already.
I expect Whitman to go down in flames (the flames would be from the millions of her own dollars that she might as well just burn) for several reasons (not necessarily in this order):
- Current Repugnican Gov. Schwarzenegger’s approval rating has been less than 30 percent for months now. And, as Brown pointed out, Schwarzenegger will still be governor when people are at the voting both in November. Schwarzenegger will still be around to remind them how fucking brilliant it was to put a rich “outsider” in the governor’s office in 2003.
- Most Californians correctly identify the Repugnican Party as the party that flushed the nation’s and the state’s economies down the toilet. (Maybe the memories of George W. Bush would have faded if it weren’t for Dick Cheney’s Penguin-like visage on the Sunday morning political television shows all the fucking time.)
- Outspending your opponent is never a sure-fire way of winning office in California. Notes Time:
[Whitman] also faces scrutiny because of her wealth, which is estimated to be more than $1 billion.
“There’s a history of wealthy Californians trying to start at the top, like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina [who is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in November], without having paid their dues,” says Lew Uhler, president of the National Tax Limitation Committee, an anti-tax group, who is supporting one of Whitman’s opponents.
It takes a vast amount of money to be competitive in California, but the road to Sacramento is littered with the bodies of failed parvenus: Michael Huffington, the former Republican Congressman and ex-husband of Arianna, blew $28 million on a failed Senate bid in 1994; Al Checchi, a former co-chairman of Northwest Airlines, spent $40 million losing to Gray Davis in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1998; and the businessman Bill Simon, who campaigned unsuccessfully against Davis in 2002.
All of them were seen as overconfident and underprepared, liable to self-destruct when pressed on basic policy questions. Raphael Sonenshein, a political-science professor at California State University at Fullerton, notes that self-made, first-time candidates often imagine incorrectly that politics can be made as efficient, orderly and logical as business.
“While [very wealthy candidates] are usually competitive, it’s not nearly as easy as they think it’s going to be,” he says. “There’s a reason that politics is a profession.”
- It shouldn’t matter, but in the video age, it does: Megalomaniac Whitman is not an attractive woman. OK, I’ll say it: she’s fairly fugly, in my book. We like to think that we’re above such superficial things in elections, but we’re not. Physical appearance no doubt helped such politicians as Schwarzenegger, Barack Obama and Scott Brown. (Too bad Nutmeg didn’t use some of her millions to buy herself a face transplant or something…)
- Besides rolling back state climate change legislation that even Schwarzenegger championed, Nutmeg’s other campaign promise is to fire tens of thousands of state workers. She hasn’t bothered to say which ones. In a state already dealing with unemployment problems, this idea to slaughter sacrificial lambs who aren’t even the cause of the state’s economic troubles doesn’t sit well with most Californians, who already have seen state services drop because of massive budget cuts to state social programs. This also is a sure-fire way to fire up the state’s powerful labor unions, whose support Jerry Brown already has.
Still, one never should underestimate the stupidity of many and often of even most of the voters, who did, after all, elect Schwarzenegger in the bogus 2003 do-over — er, “recall” — election and then re-elected him in 2006.
I plan to help fight to keep Megalomaniac Whitman in retirement from her gig at eBay.