Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman are vying to become the next governor of California. Four third-party candidates are also on the ballot.
The Press Democrat Editorial Board endorsed Jerry Brown on Oct. 24. A copy of the editorial is attached below. Did the PD Editorial Board make the right decision? Disagree with the choice? Post a comment to share your thoughts with other members of the community.
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PD Editorial: For Jerry Brown
Attorney general shows he understands what California is up against
How did we get here? Probably no race is more disappointing, and more difficult to decide for moderate voters in this election, than the contest for governor.
At a time when California needs a leader who will address the state’s structural problems — both financial and physical — with a firm hand and forge working alliances in Sacramento where none exist, voters are presented with two candidates who appeal to the extremes.
On one side is Democrat Jerry Brown, 72, the lifelong politician and former governor who brings back memories of Governor “Moonbeam,” Rose Bird and the Proposition 13 taxpayer revolt.
On the other is Republican Meg Whitman, 54, chief executive of eBay from 1998-2008 who knows her way around Wall Street and Silicon Valley but has no experience with Sacramento or any other political arena.
And it shows. Whitman can be effective on the campaign trail when it comes to summarizing the problems that paralyze the state. And, yes, California could benefit from some new blood and new “outsider” perspectives. But Whitman’s voice and ideas are not what’s needed.
Armed with a massive $160 million-plus war chest — much of it her own money — she has campaigned on simple messages that don’t sell and don’t make sense. She has vowed to eliminate 40,000 state workers through layoffs and attrition and pledged to reduce state spending by $15 billion. It sounds appealing. The truth is California’s ratio of residents to state workers is already one of the lowest in the nation. Furthermore, it’s unclear how she would cut that many jobs without reducing the workforce of the Department of Corrections, which is already facing federal court mandates to relieve crowded prison conditions.
Meanwhile, she’s promised to cut capital gains taxes, blowing another $5 billion hole in the state budget, and invest $1 billion in higher education by trimming benefits to welfare recipients from five years to two years. She’s convinced this will force welfare recipients back to work — in the worst job market in generations.
Moreover, we’re troubled that this former CEO, who puts such emphasis on business acuity and personal responsibility, lacked the discipline to go register to vote during most of her adult life.
As noted above, Brown would not be our top choice. But we believe he has the right balance of experience, pragmatism and independence to make a difference in Sacramento. Brown made his share of mistakes during his service as governor from 1975 to 1983. But he was far more of a hands-on, fiscal conservative than he gets credit for — certainly by today’s standards. Moreover, it’s clear he has been tempered by the years and by his experience as mayor of Oakland, a city with many structural challenges and a no-frills budget.
In endorsing Brown, the Oakland Tribune refuted Whitman’s criticisms of Brown’s mayor track record, noting that he “exceeded most people’s expectations as mayor and brought positive change to a struggling city against very difficult odds.”
Brown has vowed to rebuild the state’s infrastructure, from roadways to railways, and is committed to making the state a leader in the development of business that promote alternative energies. Although he is heavily supported by public employee unions and labor groups, he is not controlled by those interests. He supports a two-tiered retirement system and other measures to bring public employee retirement benefits down to a sustainable level.
To Whitman, the solutions are all clear: Lay off thousands, blow up boxes, cut taxes, take away benefits, run the state more like a business. Her dogged reliance on these bromides shows she lacks the experience, demeanor and understanding to be governor.
For better or worse, Brown speaks his mind. And, unlike his opponent, he has had the good sense not to make promises that can’t be kept or that threaten to drive the state deeper into a financial hole.
Call it what you will. Perspective. Restraint. Maybe common sense — or a combination of all three. Whatever it is, we believe Brown has what it takes to bring some cohesion and focus to Sacramento politics and help the state move in a better direction.
The Press Democrat recommends Jerry Brown for governor.