EDMUND G. BROWN
We have issues with Jerry Brown. The one-time environmental leader who left an admirable progressive legacy his first time in the governor's office (including the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the California Conservation Corps, and the liberal Rose Bird Supreme Court) and who is willing to stand up and oppose the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant has become a centrist, tough-on-crime, no-new-taxes candidate. And his only solution to the state budget problems is to bring all the players together early and start talking.
But at least since he's started to debate Republican Meg Whitman face to face, he's showing some signs of life — and flashes of the old Jerry. He's strongly denouncing Whitman's proposal to wipe out capital gains taxes, reminding voters of the huge hole that would blow in the state budget — and the $5 billion windfall it would give to the rich. He's talking about suing Wall Street financial firms that cheated Californians. He's promoting green jobs and standing firm in support of the state's greenhouse-gas emissions limits.
For all his drawbacks (his insistence, for example, that the Legislature shouldn't raise any taxes without a statewide vote of the people), Brown is at least part of the reality-based community. He understands that further tax cuts for the rich won't solve California's problems. He knows that climate change is real. He's not great on immigration issues, but at least he's cognizant that 2 million undocumented immigrants live in California — and the state can't just arrest and deport them all.
Whitman is more than a conservative Republican. She's scary. The centerpiece of her economic platform calls for laying off 40,000 state employees — thereby greatly increasing the state's unemployment rate. Her tax plan would increase the state's deficit by another $5 billion just so that a tiny number of the richest taxpayers (including her) can keep more of their money. She's part of the nativist movement that wants to close the borders.
She's also one of the growing number of candidates who think personal wealth and private-sector business success translate to an ability to run a complex state government. That's a dangerous trend — Whitman has no political experience or background (until recently she didn't even vote) and will be overcome by the lobbyists in Sacramento.
This is a critically important election for California. Vote for Jerry Brown.
Why is the mayor of San Francisco running for a job he once dismissed as worthless? Simple: he couldn't get elected governor, and he wants a place to perch for a while until he figures out what higher office he can seek. It's almost embarrassing in its cold political calculus, but that's something we've come to expect from Newsom.
We endorsed Newsom's opponent, Janice Hahn, in the Democratic primary. It was hard to make a case for advancing the political career of someone who has taken what amounts to a Republican approach to running the city's finances — he's addressed every budget problem entirely with cuts, pushed a "no-new-taxes" line, and given the wealthy everything they wanted. His immigration policies have broken up families and promoted deporting kids. He's done Pacific Gas and Electric Co. a nice favor by doing nothing to help the community choice aggregation program move forward.