Dear California Republicans,
As you hold your convention this weekend, your face many difficult questions about the future of your party. Fortunately, your choice for governor is obvious: it’s the incumbent Jerry Brown.
Yes, Brown is, as a technical matter, a registered Democrat. But look at his rhetoric and his record, and it’s hard to imagine a governor who is better for Republicans. Heck, as a 75-year-old white man, Brown is the very epitome of your party.
His small government views fit too. In this, his second go-round as governor, he’s made a fetish of frugality. He talks constantly about controlling spending and the budget. He’s reined in legislative Democrats and their spending desires more effectively than either of the last two Republican governors did. Yes, he’s pushing expensive investments in high-speed rail and water infrastructure – but fear not. Brown has talked so much about frugality that his rhetoric has ensnared these expensive projects – and helped stall them. And yes, he convinced voters to raise taxes – but those tax hikes are temporary; and Brown has locked in the budget crisis’ austerity levels of spending; poor people and higher ed are still way behind where they were before the recession.
Indeed, Brown has done more than anyone to slow down California’s Democratic juggernaut. After taking supermajority control of the legislature, Democrats had an opportunity to make big changes on fiscal matters – but Brown has pushed back against big new investments and reforms. He is fond of cautioning prudence. Now it appears that those supermajorities are going away. Brown really helped you dodge some bullets.
In fact, Brown’s determination to oppose broader constitutional reform has been a lifeline for the GOP. The governor has explicitly taken off the table any changes to the supermajority requirements and other constitutional rules that keep the Republicans relevant by allowing them to hold fiscal matters hostage. (He even said in a recent appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press that California doesn’t have the kind of procedural blocks that the U.S. Senate has with its 60-vote rule. That’s the sort of delusional mistake worth of a Republican). He’s even attacked those of us who believe in such reforms as “declinists” who aren’t realistic, which is good old-fashioned GOP-style demagoguery.
And besides Brown, what other choices do you have? Tim Donnelly’s presence in the race reminds Californians of all the reasons why they don’t like the GOP. And Neel Kashkari is actually attacking Brown from the left – on the governor’s failure to respond to poverty.
Are you really going to back a Republican In Name Only over a Republican In All But Name?