California’s Gov. Jerry Brown, cruising to likely re-election in November, is presenting himself not just as the most experienced leaders in the Golden State, but as a conservative one. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Brown promised to restrain state government spending in his next term; railed against overregulation and over-legislation; and suggested that he might be open to tax reform, an issue he championed in the past.
Sounding less like a liberal icon and more like a Tea Party activist, Brown decried state bureaucracy (“It’s like Gulliver being tied by these Lilliputians, with more and more little strings and ropes”) and complained about big government (“It can’t all be just about more rules and more money, and that’s basically what Sacramento does”). He added: “Prop. 13 [restricting property taxes] is a sacred doctrine that should never be questioned.”
Brown did suggest that he might extend the tax hikes from 2012’s Proposition 30, and defended the California teachers’ unions, whose tenure protections were struck down in Vergara v. California. Still, the conservative notes he sounded in the interview depart from expectations, and could mark a return to the persona Brown assumed in his 1992 presidential run, when he championed conservative proposals such as a flat tax.
It is possible that Brown’s conservative tone is merely insurance against a late surge by Republican challenger Neel Kashkari, or a cover for a leftward shift he might make after Nov. 4–for example, in the voter initiatives he says he will unfurl.
Still, even the Times authors note with interest: “Brown struck themes that were remarkably conservative for the most powerful Democrat in California, a national stronghold for the party.”
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak