The Riggs Report: Jerry Brown’s Philadelphia stage
California governor back in national spotlight at DNC
California Gov. Jerry Brown ran for the presidency three times and lost, but he returned to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week as a winner.
Not as the winner of the White House, of course. That ship has sailed. But Brown, in the final two years of his final term as California’s governor, is back on the national stage as a senior statesman who’s enjoying relatively high polling numbers.
A Field Poll conducted in April tallied Brown with a 55 percent approval rating among all state voters and a 74 percent approval rating among his fellow Democrats.
As governor of the largest state, and given his own past pursuits of the White House, Brown attracts attention naturally from national political reporters. He’s taking advantage of that, holding forth with the Washington Post and other national outlets.
Brown has been highly visible, announcing California’s vote count during the state-by-state roll call on Tuesday night, saying it was “the state that defies Donald Trump on climate change, immigration reform and the $15 minimum wage.”
In keeping with that, Brown focused heavily on the threats of climate change and California’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions during his convention address on Wednesday. He hammered Trump as someone who would retreat from progress made in addressing global warming issues.
Brown has skipped many of these conventions: He hasn’t addressed the convention floor since 1992, when he last ran for the presidency in a fierce duel with Bill Clinton.
At the time, Brown was running as the anti-establishment outsider—Bernie Sanders-style. It was during that campaign that he famously tangled with then-Governor Clinton during a debate over critical remarks he made about Hillary Clinton’s law practice, prompting Clinton to tell Brown he should be “ashamed” of attacking his wife.
The animosity lingered for years. But if not forgotten, to all appearances, all is now forgiven—a reminder of shifting political alliances.
Brown huddled with Bill Clinton in Sacramento at the old governor’s mansion in late May. That meeting between two old foes was followed by Brown’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton just prior to the June 7 primary.
Hillary Clinton won the primary with 53 percent of the vote, compared to Sanders’ 46 percent.
It’s been almost 30 years since a Republican presidential candidate carried California in November. Nothing about that pattern will change this year.
Although Hillary Clinton’s name will be on the ballot, here’s something else that hasn’t changed: As Brown attends his final national convention as governor, as he looks ahead to issues like the dangers of greenhouse gases, immigration reform, and trade, he still thinks about 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and what might have been.
“I never thought I should run again,” Brown told the Washington Post. “But do I like running for president? Yes. Do I think I could be a good president? Yes.”