California Gov. Jerry Brown has not yet endorsed either of the two Democratic presidential candidates ahead of the June 7 California primary.
Brown, who ran against Bill Clinton for president in 1992, shares some of the qualities and priorities of each candidate — or, as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom told the New York Times, “Jerry Brown is a unique combination of the leadership qualities of Hillary and Bernie.” But he has declined to make a choice — and it may well be too late to do so.
Californians began voting in early May, when the first mail-in ballots were sent out. Though a large number of new voters — some 1.5 million — have registered, roughly two-thirds of California voters in recent years have preferred to vote early. That means the number turning out on June 7 will be relatively small, and the effect of an endorsement by the governor will be somewhat limited. Critics would say the governor’s silence is classic Brown — dignified, above the fray, and yet timid.
The Times notes Brown’s high approval ratings in the state, largely the result of a modest economic rebound and renewed health in the state’s finances. He has stood firm on fracking, against overwhelming opposition from the left. But in six years in Sacramento, the fourth-term governor failed to make any serious effort at pension reform. Nor did he tackle the public sector unions — a chronic problem he helped create in the 1970s. Instead, he has doggedly pursued a failing high-speed rail project.
It is possible that Brown may be holding out hope to be selected as either candidate’s running mate. At 78 years old, Brown seemed to think another presidential run was beyond him, though he said he certainly would have tried had he been ten years younger. But Brown, who is not running for re-election in 2018 and would not risk support from either camp by declaring a favorite, may be waiting to see who prevails in his state before burnishing his vice presidential credentials.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.