On Thursday morning’s edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, NBC News White House Correspondent Chuck Todd predicted that California Gov. Jerry Brown would be the “most likely” to challenge frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2016 presidential race. Brown, who is running for a fourth non-consecutive term as governor, has already run for president three times and would be 78 years old in 2017.
Todd said that a challenger to Clinton was likely for two reasons: first, a series of stumbles on her troubled book tour; and second, the idea that “[y]ou can’t just go unchallenged until the general election.”
Fellow panelist Mark Halperin of Time magazine suggested that former Vice President Al Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000 but lost the Electoral College, could mount a challenge to the former First Lady for the nomination.
But Todd said that Brown was a stronger candidate: “I still think the person that is most likely to do this is going to be Jerry Brown. And he equally is a nemesis to the Clintons in a way that is different from Al Gore but also possesses every one of those attributes that Mark was talking about Al Gore, other than winning Iowa and winning the popular vote. Jerry Brown’s resume with the left and populist movement is as strong, if not stronger.”
As Todd noted, Brown has been hailed by Democrats and the left for his performance as California governor, principally for convincing the state’s voters to raise taxes on the rich, which helped him balance the state’s budget.
California voters have a highly favorable opinion of the relatively moderate Brown, who is viewed as his party’s most (or only) mature leader, and who led Republican rival Neel Kashkari by 20 points in a recent poll.