THE BLOG

Going for Term Four, Jerry Brown Gets It In Gear

03/02/2014 10:50 pm ET | Updated May 02, 2014

If you had asked me 40 years ago -- when I first ran for governor -- what I would be doing in 2014, I could never have guessed. Nor could anyone else. Yet, by the grace of God and habits of perseverance instilled in me by my family, the Dominican nuns and the Jesuits, I am here and ready to go. We live in unprecedented times. The tasks ahead are not simple or mundane. -- Governor Jerry Brown, in his announcement for a fourth term as governor of California

Jerry Brown, as always predicted here, finally formally declared his candidacy for an unprecedented fourth term as governor of California.

He did it on February 27th by tweeting an alert to his sending out of a well-considered statement and a photo of himself pulling papers for the office at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

"Four years ago," Brown wrote, "I asked that you support my candidacy for governor based on my bringing an 'insider's knowledge but an outsider's mind' to fix the budget breakdown and overcome Sacramento's poisonous partisanship. Now, four years later, a $27 billion deficit has become a surplus and our credit rating and public confidence are rising. State budgets are not only balanced but they are on time and free of the rancor of past years."

The "insider's knowledge/outsider's mind" trope was front and center in Brown's 2010 announcement for governor, which he did via a YouTube video.

Brown evidently thinks this phrase describes his approach, an approach which he says has largely worked in bringing California back from a chronic operating state budget deficit and
and the abyss of permanent hyper-partisan gridlock.

As you can see at the link, Brown runs through a litany of issues where he and most observers see improvements for California. If it's not exactly morning in California, it is something of a victory dance for Brown, which Brown believes is both justified and justifying of further moves to return California to its futuristic path of innovation, creative diversity, and stewardship.

Which is not to say that there aren't significant problems, as Brown admits, from over-committed/under-funded public employee retiree plans and inadequate maintenance of public
infrastructure to an historic drought exacerbated by climate change.

But Brown, now dealing with a large budget surplus, just signed into law his $687 million drought relief package. And he continues working on larger, long-run water programs to deal with the crisis by conserving, conveying, and containing the precious natural resource.

Brown might have declared his candidacy in more dramatic fashion than sending out a statement and photo on February 27th. After all, as I've noted a few times, the filing deadline is March 7th. And, though I did not mention it, the California Democratic Party convention this year runs from, yes, March 7th through March 9th. That was the doing of crafty California Democratic Party chairman John Burton.

Brown could have waited until Friday, March 7th -- when delegates arrive at the LA Convention Center and begin caucusing and partying -- to file for re-election, then come by the convention with an "oh, by the way, look what I just did."

Democratic state convention delegates are already stoked by the prospect of the Brown-led ticket in this year's election extinguishing the Republican Party as a real force in statewide elections. Such a Brown move would only have stoked the excitement further.

But Brown chose a more matter of fact approach. Which also makes sense. After all, it's not as though there was a lot of suspense in his decision to run again.

Brown, by the way, seems to have raised a lot more money than has his only monied Republican opponent, former US assistant treasury secretary Neel Kashkari, in the period since Kashkari excited some with a million dollars in his first two weeks as a candidate.

Since then, looking at reports of contributions of $5,000 and more, it's been much slower going for Kashkari. Meanwhile, Brown has raised more than a million dollars since, bringing his
campaign warchest up to $18 million-plus.

It's not a surprise that the first million came the easiest for Kashkari, who has been meeting with potential contributors and fundraisers for more than a year but only began having funds actually contributed for his campaign after he declared his candidacy.

In any event, Kashkari shouldn't worry about catching up with Brown. He needs to put together enough money to beat far right Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly in order to get into the November general election in the first place. With the primary election just three months away, the former assistant treasury secretary who coordinated the Wall Street bailout has a lot of work to do.

Meanwhile, Brown appeared on Sunday's Meet the Press on NBC to discuss the state of California, his historic fourth run for its governorship, and a new/old issue.

"Fiscal discipline," he intoned, "is the fundamental predicate of a free society. "

Pure Brown boilerplate, of course. He got into more colorful territory when he discussed the prospect of legalizing marijuana. As a longtime advocate of Zen meditation, Brown, something of an ascetic and more the beat than hippie, is not an enthusiast.

"How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world's pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."

Now that's a soundbite.

Not that Brown is going to stand in the schoolhouse door, as it were, when it comes to marijuana legalization. That's inevitable. And the crime policy Brown is pursuing in California of realignment, which sees lesser offenders moved from state prison to local jail, and cops increasingly pursuing different modes of policing when it comes to lesser disturbances of the public peace, certainly de-emphasizes most drug crimes.

Brown just has bigger fish to fry when it comes to signature issues.