Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Q: What do you get when you cross Clinton and Sanders?

A: An ideal Democratic candidate.

(Scriber wrote this one before seeing the endorsement by Jerry Brown.)

John Nichols was the featured speaker at the DCSRA spring dinner. He ended his talk with comments on both contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. He observed that both have good qualities and it would behoove Dems to fine a way to meld both into an ideal candidate. Whether that's possible in the current political environment remains to be seen. But it is possible in theory and there is an example that shows us what the result of the meld would look like: Gov. Jerry Brown of California. The NY Times explains in the following snippets.

As the Democratic presidential primary nears in California, it is easy to find in Mr. Sanders the kind of populist appeal that has long animated Mr. Brown, who ran for president in 1992 on a “We the People” pledge to accept no contribution over $100. But it is just as easy to find in Hillary Clinton, Mr. Sanders’s opponent, the kind of political moderation and fiscal restraint that has come to define Mr. Brown’s tenure as governor.

Mr. Brown is in many ways a blend of these two very different candidates, having created a style that has made him an enduringly popular and successful California governor. And it is not only Mr. Brown: The California Democratic Party stands as a model of electoral success and cohesion, in contrast to national Democrats struggling through a divisive primary and debate about an uncertain future.

Brown has been able to use his style to capture California for Democrats with the result being a progressive legislative agenda.

California is one of the few states in the country, and easily the largest, where Democrats are completely in control, holding every statewide office as well as overwhelming majorities in the Assembly and the Senate, not to mention both United States Senate seats. Mr. Brown and his party are using that power to try to enact legislation — on guns, tobacco, the environment, the minimum wage and immigrant rights — that suggest the kind of agenda that has eluded national Democrats.

There are several interrelated factors at play in California, notably a large block of Hispanic voters and declining Republican registrations. But "Mr. Brown is a crucial reason the state party seems to be doing well."

“Jerry Brown is a unique combination of the leadership qualities of Hillary and Bernie,” said Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor, who is running to succeed Mr. Brown when his term ends in early 2019. “Jerry is extraordinarily adept at populism. But he also has the hardheaded pragmatism that comes with experience, wisdom — and age.”

It certainly seems appealing to California voters: According the latest Field Poll in April, 55 percent approved of his performance. But he has not endorsed anyone in the presidential primary on June 7, and it is difficult to say whether voters prefer the Sanders or the Clinton side of their governor. A poll last week by the Public Policy Institute of California found Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton essentially tied, a surprise to Mrs. Clinton who had expected California to be a relatively easy win. As a result, both candidates are making frequent appearances here, and are advertising on television, in advance of the primary.

"When Jerry Brown is gone — and I say that as a candidate for governor, I’m not na├»ve about this — it’s going to be very hard to replicate,” Mr. Newsom said. “By no means am I suggesting blind optimism that we’ve figured it out. He’s figured it out. The governor has proved you don’t have to be profligate to be progressive. He has found that sweet spot.”

Nationally, Democrats need to find our "sweet spot." We could do much worse than use Jerry Brown as a model.

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