Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dems Try to Rescue Jerry Brown

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 10:22 AM

An independent Democratic group with close ties to the national party plans to spend $20 million this year in an effort to stop GOP billionaire Meg Whitman from buying her way into the governor’s mansion, the Chron reports. But the efforts by the group, which dubs itself, Level the Playing Field 2010, also highlights the weakness of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, who has run one of the sleepiest statewide campaigns in recent memory. In fact, Brown hasn’t even officially announced his candidacy yet, while Whitman has already flooded the airwaves with campaign ads.

It’s true that Brown won't be able to match the $39 million that Whitman has poured into her own campaign. And it would be foolish for him to spend a lot of cash now trying to counteract her media blitz, which has included buying expensive airtime during the Winter Olympics. But Brown isn’t even doing the basic stuff that doesn’t cost much money, such as holding campaign events, calling press conferences, and meeting with voters.

Instead, the former Oakland mayor’s campaign has been mostly missing in action. So it’s no wonder that well-respected campaign operatives, such as Averell “Ace” Smith, who worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and Chris Lehane, a former Clinton Whitehouse staffer who also worked on Al Gore and John Kerry’s presidential campaigns, have had to come to Brown’s rescue in a state that leans overwhelmingly Democratic.

However, considering the shape of the Democratic Party nationwide, their efforts in California likely would be better directed toward other races around the country, protecting the Democratic majorities in Congress. And so it’s too bad that they’re being forced to spend precious funds helping a candidate who doesn’t seem that interested in running for office.

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