Political Flashback: Democrats were antsy as Jerry Brown lay low

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With the California governor’s race in its final hours, PolitiCal will look back throughout the day at some of the key moments in this year’s historic contest. We begin after the June primary, when Republicans selected billionaire Meg Whitman over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and Democrats handed the reins to a former governor who had not run a competitive statewide race since 1982.

After Whitman dispatched Poizner in the Republican gubernatorial primary, Democrats began getting nervous about their prospects in the fall election. Their candidate, Jerry Brown, had vanquished his challenger, Gavin Newsom, before a single vote was cast. And his campaign war chest paled in comparison with Whitman’s $1.3-billion fortune.

As Brown lay low, a number of Democrats articulated their concern about the Brown campaign. As Seema Mehta reported in July:

The combination of Whitman’s wealth and a distinct lack of energy by Brown is making California Democrats nervous about their candidate’s prospects in the fall. ‘If you’re going to run for governor, you have to do what it takes. You can’t tell yourself or tell everyone else there is some special way for you to do this that is completely outside the norms that apply to everyone else,’ said Democratic strategist Garry South, who advised San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in his combative primary bid against Brown. South is particularly concerned that Brown, who raised $23 million before the primary, began fundraising too late. Asked what he would advise Brown to do, South replied, ‘Go back in time and start over. I hate to be flippant, but once you let that time go by, you can’t recoup it.’


Stay tuned to PolitiCal throughout the day as we recap the race that was and wait for the polls to close at 8 p.m.


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-- Anthony York in Sacramento

PHOTO: California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown gestures during a campaign rally ahead of Tuesday’s election in Oakland, California November 1, 2010. Credit: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith