Kathleen Brown Formally Enters Race for Governor : Politics: The Democratic candidate pledges to work for educational excellence, jobs and crime reduction.
Democrat Kathleen Brown formally announced her candidacy for governor Tuesday with a pledge to restore educational excellence for California’s children, job opportunities for its workers and safety for communities beset by violent crime.
“Enough is enough,” said Brown, 48, the first-term state treasurer, speaking of jobs lost, children being gunned down at school and fourth-grade test scores that rank at the bottom of the country. She said such problems have assaulted California during Republican administrations of the past 11 years.
In the sort of traditional California campaign kickoff made successfully by two Browns before her, Kathleen Brown declared her candidacy in speeches in Burbank, San Francisco and Sacramento.
Her father, Edmund G. (Pat) Brown Sr., first won election as governor in 1958, and her brother, Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., was elected in 1974. Both served two terms and are the only Democrats to have occupied the chief executive’s corner office in the Capitol in the past half-century.
Referring frequently to her roots as the fourth-generation offspring of Irish and German immigrants to Gold Rush California, Brown said the state always has reached into its pioneering spirit to recover from adversity such as it faces today.
“Just as those earlier Californians represented the very best of California’s past, I intend to represent the best of California’s future,” Brown said as she toured the state on one of those sun-splashed, after-the-storm days for which California is famous.
“Moving California forward again is going to require a governor with a plan to create jobs, fight crime and reform our schools. I am the only candidate with that plan, a plan to build a better and stronger California,” she said.
In the June 7 Democratic primary, Brown will face state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, 49, another descendant of pioneer California stock--Basques and Italians who came to the Mother Lode country.
In the fall, the winner will go up against Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, 60, who is expected to be unopposed for renomination on the GOP ticket in his quest for a second term as governor.
In her remarks Tuesday, Brown ignored Garamendi and reserved her political barbs for Wilson, accusing him of waiting until election year to attack California’s problems. She said Wilson was more than 1,000 days into his term before he hired a consultant to reform education, traveled out of the country to develop export markets and called a summit meeting on ways to fight violent crime.
“And for those three years, we have had a governor who blamed our problems on Washington, on immigrants, on the Legislature, and even on our children,” she said. “But 1,127 days into his term, he still doesn’t get it--that the buck stops with him.”
“Enough is enough,” she said, repeating her rhetorical theme while looking directly into the television cameras that were transmitting her announcement to viewers.
In response, Wilson campaign spokesman Dan Schnur said Wilson’s recent trip to Asia was not just a beginning, but a continuation of an effort that began with working to make California’s economy salable to foreign investors. The trip resulted in thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment in California, Schnur said.
Similarly, he said, the crime summit was part of “more than 20 years of nonstop effort” by Wilson to make California streets and homes safer from criminals.
Schnur said that California has survived repeated disasters in recent years, but “one disaster that not even the state of California and the people could survive at such a critical point in our history is the prospect of Gov. Kathleen Brown.”
Brown’s stops were symbolic of the three key elements in her program: jobs, education and crime.
In Burbank, she spoke at a firm that makes bolts for military and commercial aircraft. In Sacramento, it was the school where she was an eighth- and ninth-grade student when her father was governor. The San Francisco setting was the police station where her maternal grandfather, Arthur Layne, began a 41-year career as a police officer.
Brown’s mother, Bernice, introduced the candidate in San Francisco by remembering Layne as a tough but smart officer who “didn’t just talk about crime but spent a career trying to do something about it.” The notion of tough but smart is one of Kathleen Brown’s slogans and she often talks about taking action on issues, not just talking about them.
In Burbank and San Francisco, Brown was asked how she could be as tough on crime as Wilson and Garamendi, particularly when she is opposed to the death penalty.
“I will enforce the laws of the state of California, including the death penalty,” she said in front of the brick facade of the Richmond police station. “It is a settled issue.”
Brown said that in choosing judges her only test would be that they are “qualified, and that they be willing and able and committed to enforcing the law.”
Brown added that she would have reached the same decision that Wilson did in allowing the execution of Robert Alton Harris.
But Brown expanded on the crime issue by declaring that it is inextricably linked to the economy and education, and that she is the only candidate who has programs that deal with all those issues.
California cannot attract new business unless the streets are safe, she said. And the state’s youngsters must get good educations and land jobs if the cycle of crime and violence is to be broken, she said.
“If we’re going to deal with education, we’re going to have to fix our economy so we have the revenues to put into education,” she said. " . . . You have to have a measure of success in each of those areas.”
Brown’s father, in his late 80s and ailing, was not able to attend any of her appearances. There was some question whether brother Jerry, the former governor, would show up in San Francisco.
Arriving at the police station, Kathleen Brown spotted him and said. “Well, you made it.”
“Yeah,” Jerry Brown said.
But he was one of many Brown family members in the audience who were not introduced during the formal program. In a question-and-answer session afterward, a reporter asked Brown if she was trying to distance herself from her brother and his controversial political career.
“That’s my cue,” Jerry Brown said, jumping up to the podium. He took off his brown jacket bearing the legend of the California Conservation Corps, one of the programs he started, and presented it to her with wishes of luck and an admonition to “fight for the future.”
In Sacramento, Brown visited a computer lab at her old school and answered written questions from students. One asked her to recall her most memorable time at Sutter.
Brown said it was when she ran for student body vice president, adding: “Girls couldn’t be president of the student body at Sutter when I went here,” she said. “But now we can grow up to be governors.”
Just a few months ago, Brown supporters were ready to virtually anoint her as governor. After three years of economic troubles, a tax increase and budget deadlocks with the Legislature, Wilson’s popularity and job rating plummeted to modern lows. Garamendi was viewed as an ambitious maverick with little chance of winning the Democratic nomination over the well-financed Brown, whose campaign war chest is five times as fat as his.
Even her opponents acknowledge that Brown has a star quality enjoyed by few politicians, and she has received extensive, flattering national media attention.
But as the campaign approached, Brown was criticized openly by opponents, and quietly by many supporters, for failing to present a coherent vision and program. Beginning last summer, she launched a series of detailed public addresses in which she outlined plans on immigration control, education reform, crime and the economy.
Critics attacked the programs as superficial compilations of proposals already made by others.
At the same time, Wilson’s stock rebounded as the economy seemed to hit bottom and begin to recover and after he was able to work cooperatively with the Democrat-controlled Legislature in passing a 1993 budget on time, reforming workers’ compensation and approving new tax breaks for business.
Wilson also received considerable attention in dealing with a string of disasters, including last fall’s brush fires and the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake.
The governor, recognized as a tenacious campaigner, went on the attack on the crime issue. By the end of January, he had cut the Brown and Garamendi leads in Field Poll matchups to single digits.
Meanwhile, Garamendi refused to back out of the campaign as Brown’s strategists hoped he would. In fact, Garamendi launched a free-wheeling underdog campaign that began getting media attention as he called for quick action, including temporary tax increases, to repair earthquake damage.
Political experts still give Brown the edge over Garamendi in the primary battle, in large part because of her huge advantage in campaign funds. But they also agree that it will be a tough campaign that could go down to the wire if Garamendi can raise enough money to finance a credible television campaign.
Garamendi is counting on scoring breakthroughs in debates with Brown, challenging her to at least 10 face-to-face meetings. She said Tuesday, “I’m prepared to debate John Garamendi,” but declined to say when or how many times.
Profile: Kathleen Brown
State Treasurer Kathleen Brown formally declared her candidacy Tuesday for governor of California. She will compete with Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi for the Democratic nomination in the June 7 primary. The winner will run in the fall against Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who is seeking a second term.
* Born: Sept. 25, 1945, San Francisco
* Residence: Los Angeles
* Education: Bachelor’s degree with major in history, Stanford University, 1969; law degree, Fordham University School of Law, 1985.
* Career highlights: Los Angeles Board of Education, 1975-80; attorney, New York City and Los Angeles, 1985-87; Los Angeles Board of Public Works, 1987-89; California state treasurer, 1991-present.
* Family: Married, 1980, to Van Gordon Sauter, president, Fox TV news; five children.
* Quote: “From Day 1, my top priority as governor will be to restore prosperity to California, to invest in the future and to make this the most vibrant economic environment in the world.”