Meet the new governor of California – Jerry Brown.
At least for a while.
Brown, the state attorney general and an all-but-declared candidate this year for governor, is acting governor because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature’s top leaders are in Washington, D.C. seeking federal funding for recession-plagued California.
When the governor is out of the state, the lieutenant governor typically assumes the governor’s duties. But California has no lieutenant governor – the last one, John Garamendi, resigned after he won a House seat in the 10th Congressional District.
Garamendi’s replacement, appointed by the governor, is Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria. But Maldonado has not yet been confirmed.
With no lieutenant governor, next in line is the leader of the Senate, Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and after him, it’s Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles. But both Steinberg and Bass are with Schwarzenegger in Washington.
The next up is Secretary of State Debra Bowen, but she is out of the state on a family matter. That leaves Brown, who served as governor from 1975 to 1983, and who knows something about acting governors.
At one point, when Brown, a Democrat, left the state during his governorship to campaign for president, then-Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, a Republican, exercised one of the governor’s fundamental powers – he appointed judges. Curb’s action prompted a political firestorm and ultimately prompted limits on the lieutenant governor’s powers.
Schwarzenegger and the legislative leaders are expected to return to California Thursday evening.
Brown was not immediately available to comment.