The Corner

The Return of Jerry Brown? He Could Give Hillary Headaches

Jerry Brown, governor of the nation’s largest state, just won reelection in California by nearly 20 points. He spent very little of the $25 million he raised for his campaign. So when his political aides sent out an invitation for a $5,000 fundraiser in Sacramento next Monday, there was inevitable speculation: Jerry Brown may run for president for the fourth time.

If he challenges Hillary Clinton, Brown can claim solid credentials as a liberal leader. He has raised taxes on the rich, been an avid backer of climate-change regulation, and was one of the few Democrats in the country to win white males this past election. “He convinced California voters to support a water bond, a rainy day fund, a reduction in prison sentences, and more,” notes Joel Pollak of Breitbart News. “He is Elizabeth Warren with real executive experience and without the fake heritage.”

In addition to his California record, Brown would be welcomed into the 2016 race by some leftists who want to ensure Hillary Clinton doesn’t win the Democratic nomination by default. As I wrote last year for NRO:

If Brown runs, some observers will inevitably say he’s engaging in a grudge match against the Clintons. In 1992, Brown ran for president and almost derailed Bill Clinton’s nomination by winning in Maine, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska, Vermont, and Connecticut. “There’s a lot of history between the Clintons and Jerry Brown, and it’s mostly bad,” recalls Phil Matier of CBS in San Francisco. “He ran against Bill Clinton and really went after him on ethics. He raised questions about Hillary working in the Arkansas law firms when Clinton was governor. Clinton and Brown were not friendly, and Brown embarrassed Clinton on national TV, though they made up a bit, as politicians do. But there’s no love lost between the Clintons and the Browns.” . . . [If Brown ran in 2016] one could expect a populist campaign that would attack Hillary in the same way that Brown derided his own party’s congressional leadership in 1992: They were, he said, nothing more than a “Stop-and-Shop for the moneyed special interests.”

Some pundits would, of course, dismiss him as too old to be a presidential candidate — he will reach his 78th birthday in 2016. But he is vigorous and Hillary Clinton herself will be 69. As Democratic activist Ed Kilgore notes, “Brown’s already defied the usual laws of political retirement.” No one at first thought Brown could come back in 2010, after a 28-year-absence from the governor’s mansion, and win two more terms as governor. Now Brown may be contemplating another out-of-the-box comeback as a presidential hopeful.


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