Jerry Brown may be 76 years old, but hope springs eternal for some people championing a Brown presidential bid in 2016. Both TV host Bill Maher and NBC News correspondent Chuck Todd mentioned the idea; Todd pointed out that Brown still commands respect among those on the Left. The Orange County Register has joined the chorus, noting that Brown still has roughly $24 million in his gubernatorial campaign coffers — along with a generous list of willing donors.
The Register pricks the ballooning hopes of supporters of other prospective challengers to Hillary Clinton. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has publicly stated she will not run, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s reign precariously balances on the knife-edge because of his relationship with police unions.
Quoting Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who has lauded Brown’s “California comeback,” while boasting, “Gov. Jerry Brown was able to push through a modestly liberal agenda of higher taxes, spending increases and a rise in the minimum wage,” the Register comments, “What sets Brown apart from his opponents is that, while many of the other potential presidential candidates talk a strong progressive game, Brown has methodically implemented their agenda in the nation’s most populous state.”
A Brown presidential bid has been rumored for months; in November, the Los Angeles Times reported a Brown $5,000 fundraiser two weeks after he won reelection. With the stash of money Brown had kept in his campaign fund, there was no apparent reason for the fundraiser, other than the possibility of a run for the presidency.
Brown’s three previous presidential runs ended in failure, losing to Jimmy Carter in 1976, failing to overcome the incumbent carter and his Democratic party nemesis, Ted Kennedy, in 1980, and getting trounced by Bill Clinton in 1992, when Brown won five states, including California, but Clinton swept the rest.
Brown has little love for Hillary Clinton and her husband. In 2013, Phil Matier of CBS in San Francisco told National Review, “There’s a lot of history between the Clintons and Jerry Brown, and it’s mostly bad. He ran against Bill Clinton and really went after him on ethics. He raised questions about Hillary working in the Arkansas law firms when Clinton was governor. Clinton and Brown were not friendly, and Brown embarrassed Clinton on national TV, though they made up a bit, as politicians do. But there’s no love lost between the Clintons and the Browns.”
The Register compares Brown’s advanced age to Clinton, who is 67, and Vice President Joe Biden, 72, who may jump into the race. Other candidates seem less of a threat to challenge Clinton, including Jim Webb, former senator from Virginia; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
One other salient quality Brown possesses, according to the Register: because of Hillary Clinton’s overwhelming presence, Brown would be viewed as an underdog, and Democrats habitually nominate candidates of that type, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.