Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
Is Jerry Brown in trouble?
Byron in Burlingame….

Dear Byron,
Is he in trouble? I guess that depends on whether you want him to win or simply be entertaining.

Of course he’s in trouble, big trouble.

He’s a respectable fund-raiser, labor probably will go to the mat for him, he can bob and weave better than Jake LaMotta and he’s got charisma, despite the bald pate. He’s a little like Alan Cranston: Despite the geezer appearance, he’s more ferocious and ambitious than people half his age. That temperament is always a surprise to people who first meet him, because they figure he’s a light-weight Gov. Moonbeam two steps up from the lotus position. He’s also got brains.

But what he doesn’t have is $50 million, with the promise of another $100 million on the way. Only a handful of people have that kind of dough, and Brown has the bad luck to be facing one of them for governor. Though does anyone else see this as a proxy rematch of 1982, when Pete Wilson beat Brown for U.S. Senate? Now, Wilson is behind Meg Whitman, egging her on.

Point being, yes, he’s in trouble. But look on the bright side.

If he wins, he’ll only serve one term – yes, that’s breaking news and you heard it here first at Capitol Weekly. (Actually, I tried to leak this to the Times and the Chron, and they didn’t want it; I didn’t even think of the Bee).

That means this is his last roll of the dice and he can go all out. Brown is hyperactive by nature, and this campaign is going to accentuate that trait – he’ll be all over the place all of the time or, as Hunter Thompson would have said, he’ll be like Hubert Humphrey on speed. This gubernatorial campaign may be the most entertaining race we’ve ever had, back to the days of Upton Sinclair and Culbert Olson.

It also means that Brown will be in a balls-out attack mode. He usually is, anyway, but facing an avalanche of television advertising will only increase his desperation and penchant for the jugular. Meg Whitman may have megabucks, but what she needs is a bulletproof vest and a quick move. Maybe by the time November rolls around, she’ll have both.

The great moment of the general election campaign will be the first debate between Brown and Whitman. All the campaigning, all the spending, all the fighting leads up to that moment. The conventional wisdom is Brown will eat her up and spit her out, then toss her into the front row. On this, I agree with the conventional wisdom.

And I want to see what kind of portrait all of Meg’s millions can paint of Jerry Brown. The truth is, most voters will see the campaign on TV and if they think the nice blond lady who’s been in their living rooms since January looks good enough, they may well give her a shot. It’s up to Brown to make Meg look either so clueless or so terrifying as to be not viable.

And judging from the progress of the Steve Poizner campaign, that job may be harder than it looks.


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