Saturday, May 27, 2006

Jerry Brown running for California Attorney General

Having Jerry Brown as the state attorney general in California would be a very interesting experience.  Especially if Schwartzenegger somehow manages to get himself re-elected.

This is a good sketch of Jerry with quite a bit on his background: Ever a wild card, Brown runs for top cop post by Jim Herron Zamora San Francisco Chronicle 05/15/06.

Zamora explains something I either never knew or had forgotten, how Jerry got tagged with his most famous nickname:

After Brown suggested that California launch its own telecommunications satellite, Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko in 1977 dubbed him "Governor Moonbeam." About 15 years later, Royko disavowed the nickname, saying it was unfair. But the moniker stuck - especially among Brown's Republican critics. They plan to resurrect it this fall if he wins in June.

Zamora makes an interesting observation, that Brown significantly redefined the political offices he has held since 1970: California secretary of state, governor, mayor.  He would be expected to do so with the attorney general's job, as well.  And I'm confident that he will.  Zamora writes:

Despite being the son of a governor, Brown was elected secretary of state in 1970 as an outsider preaching the mantra of reform and change. In that office, he sued powerful oil companies for illegal campaign donations and argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1974, Brown was elected governor, succeeding Ronald Reagan.

Brown radically changed that office as well. Some changes were cosmetic. He drove an old Plymouth around Sacramento and lived in a spartan apartment within walking distance of the Capitol -- rejecting the limousine and governor's mansion preferred by Reagan. (He still often walks to work in downtown Oakland.) He appointed more women, blacks, Latinos and Asians to state positions than all his predecessors combined. Some things he supported such as carpool lanes, solar energy, recycling and water conservation measures are no longer controversial. Others, such as his support of gay rights, remain hot-button issues three decades later. ...

As governor, Brown ran for president twice - 1976 and 1980 - making a big national splash each time before losing to Jimmy Carter. He also made headlines when he took singer Linda Ronstadt on an African safari.

By 1982, his critics caught up with him. Voters rejected his bid for the U.S. Senate. After that defeat, Brown went on sabbatical from politics and studied Zen Buddhism in Japan, then volunteered with Mother Teresa in India.

Jerry, now 68, lived in a commune in a converted warehouse during most of his tenure as Oakland mayor, which ends this year.  Last year, he married for the first time to a former Gap executive, who now serves as his campaign manager, and settled down to a more conventional lifestyle.

But serving as attorney general, he's not likely to be entirely conventional in his approach to crime and the justice system.

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