The Riggs Report: Brown’s last election
What’s in store for term No. 4
Gov. Jerry Brown was answering a lot of questions from reporters Wednesday, just a day after he was re-elected to an unprecedented fourth term. But he wasn’t saying much about the fact that he’ll never face voters again, 40 years after he was first elected governor.
“I don’t like to think about my last campaign,” Brown said. “I find it a depressing thought.”
What Brown is thinking about is an agenda that includes a continued campaign against climate change, as well as construction of a high-speed bullet train and a pair of massive tunnels to move water from Northern to Southern California.
Brown also will continue to focus on fiscal discipline; a move to hold the line on spending that will inevitably put him at odds with his fellow Democrats in the Legislature. That tight-fisted approach, popular with voters, has been a central theme of his governorship since he returned to the office in 2011 after a 28-year absence.
Brown’s re-election Tuesday capped a highly unusual election year in which he ran, but never actually campaigned or directly asked voters for another term.
Ahead in double digits in the polls, Brown spent some campaign time and money instead on propositions 1 and 2, a state bond measure aimed at easing drought problems and a rainy day fund intended to provide a financial cushion for budgetary hard times.
In a year when the governors of Pennsylvania and Illinois lost their jobs and others faced tough re-election fights, Brown’s race stood in sharp contrast. He beat Republican Neel Kashkari in a landslide, with more than a 17-percent victory margin.
Brown enters his fourth term in very strong shape. He’ll never face voters again, which gives him a certain freedom. But beyond that, he is sitting on a roughly $20 million war chest that will enable him to finance ballot measures over the next four years. That means he is no lame duck, at least in the conventional sense.
Brown’s fourth term will be “no picnic,” as he put it on Election Night.
But it will be a combination of pragmatic budgets and large legacy projects to be juggled in the final act of a long and sometimes tumultuous career.