warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Jerry Brown's Experience Not A Good Thing

Laura Cueva |
July 23, 2010 | 5:20 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Jerry Brown. (Creative Commons)
Jerry Brown. (Creative Commons)

It scares me that, come November, Jerry Brown’s experienced political career may be his downfall.

Jerry Brown is running for governor against Meg Whitman, a fresh-faced business executive who helped eBay rise to the top. She’s rich, she’s smart, and she knows the ins and outs of how to run a business. Brown, on the other hand, represents the norm. He’s a lifelong politician who failed at his bid for presidency and who’s already been governor once before. He’s worked his way up from mayor of Oakland to California attorney general to now governor-hopeful.

Normally, experience is a good thing. Given the current political climate, however, his chances look dim.

It seems the state, and the country as a whole, have turned over a new leaf. People are tired of politicians who only look out for themselves and they want change. (Note fresh-face Kamala Harris beat out “deeply disappointing” City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo in the race for California Attorney General and Carly Fiorina beat out five-term senate seat holder Tom Campbell in the Senate Republican primary.)

But does this mean it’s over for Brown? Not necessarily.

People are sick with anti-incumbent fever, but they’re also sick of moneyed executives ruining our economy. Not so long ago, we faced a collapse of the banking and housing market, a complete financial crisis that affected employment, housing and costs for everyone, not just lower-income families. Goldman Sachs was a major player in that collapse, and Whitman, though a newcomer, has been linked to that company.

She’s wealthy (mega-wealthy) and that alone hurts her chances at winning. There’s a palpable angst among Californians especially, since the state just months ago was in enormous debt and unemployment numbers are still through the roof. With the amount of money Whitman’s spent on her campaign, there’s a lot of talk of her (and even Fiorina) buying their seats in political offices.

Still, the Whitman team is fantastic at relating to the everyday person. “I see it every day,” Whitman said in a campaign ad about unemployment. Though I highly doubt she sees the struggles people face atop her bags of money, Brown is well-known for having chosen to live in the inner-city during his first political stint and in a rented apartment while he was mayor of Oakland.

Brown has received some slack for his now nearly $2 million home, but that’s only a fraction of what Whitman is currently willing to spend on her campaign.

Experience doesn’t necessarily equal a bad thing in politics, but Brown’s age and experience aren’t exactly a good thing during these political times. Still, I can’t help but think of the tale of the turtle and the hare. Let’s hope life reflects that tale and the turtle does end up winning the race.

To reach reporter Laura Cueva, click here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.