Friday, June 25, 2010

Opening Salvos In Cal Gov Race: Didn't Vote vs. Chameleon

In the campaign to be elected California governor -- a job no one in their right mind would want -- the opening salvos between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown perfectly frame the candidates' Achilles heels.

The Republican Whitman paints Brown as a chameleon in a television ad released Friday. In a montage of old news video clips, one shows a 1992 debate where Bill Clinton says Brown "reinvents himself every year or two."

Brown's union supporters earlier blanketed the airwaves with a video showing Whitman explaining why she didn't vote for 28 years as she made her fortune as a corporate CEO. "But, why?" the reporter keeps asking. "I should have but didn't," she keeps saying.

The winner of the Nov. 2 election is saddled immediately with a $19 billion budget deficit. Whitman, 54, has spent zero minutes in government and only the last two years thinking about it. Brown, 72, was born in government and has lived his entire life in the trade, if one dares call it that.

"Jerry Brown is in many ways very unusual because he has been many, many things," Jack Citrin, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said. 

The opening Whitman ad is described by the Los Angeles Times:

The ad opens and closes with Brown's image on a 45 rpm record. The not so subtle message? That Brown is a relic of a bygone era, sure to be contrasted with Whitman's EBay resume. In between is a video collage of images ranging from Vietnam-era helicopters to peace march imagery of the 1970s to shots of Brown and Clinton on the campaign trail in the 1990s. 

Whitman campaign strategists say they will portray Brown, who served as governor from 1977-1983, as a typical free-spending Democrat who busted the state surplus with outrageous spending programs.

The Brown camp counters that as governor the surplus he took was shifted to cities and counties who lost revenue as a result of the Proposition 13 property tax curbs voters approved in 1978.

Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said: "If Meg Whitman had ever bothered to vote, she might know that Jerry Brown cut taxes by $4 billion, built up a surplus and created 1.9 million new jobs for Californians" before he bailed out counties and cities.

Brown, who has served as governor, attorney general, secretary of state and mayor of Oakland among his assortment of jobs on the public payroll, is by his Jesuit upbringing personally frugal.

As governor, he rented a cheap apartment rather than live in the governor's "mansion" and drove his own 1972 Plymouth in stead of a limousine chauffeured by a California Highway Patrol officer.

On the campaign trail, he flaunts his frugality compared to the lavish lifestyle of the vast personal wealth Whitman has achieved.

But it is a fine line he walks.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports he and his wife, former Gap executive Anne Gust, own a custom-designed, $1.8 million house, a Zen-inspired, five-level architectural gem perched high in the wooded Oakland Hills overlooking San Francisco Bay.

Slumish compared to Whitman's $3 million home in the Silicon Valley community of Atherton.

As Round One ends, Whitman is the ruthless tycoon too busy to vote and Brown the lizard of many colors.



All I can say at this stage of the campaign is at least Brown knows what he's getting into.

No comments: