Delgadillo Plays Up His Differences From Jerry Brown

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo launched his campaign for California attorney general Wednesday, acknowledging a difficult primary election fight against a politically experienced and recognizable opponent, fellow Democrat and former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Delgadillo’s announcement on the steps of the Capitol included two references to Brown, now the mayor of Oakland, as being “the son of a governor.” Delgadillo, 45, who graduated from Harvard University and Columbia University Law School, sought to compare his upbringing in northeast Los Angeles with Brown’s more privileged life as the son of former Gov. Pat Brown.

“I know that I start this campaign as an underdog,” Delgadillo said. “I am not an ex-governor or the son of a governor. I haven’t run for president. My name is Delgadillo, not Brown.”


Brown’s decision to seek another statewide office is likely to make the attorney general’s race the most closely watched in the state, after the governor’s race.

Although he did not challenge Brown on policy issues, Delgadillo is expected to engage in a fierce fight over urban crime, the death penalty, the three-strikes law and Brown’s complex and controversial past.

Brown, 67, served one term as secretary of state starting in 1971 and two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983. He ran unsuccessfully three times for president and once for the U.S. Senate. He was elected Oakland’s mayor in 1998 and is now serving his second term.

Republican strategist Dan Schnur said this race will test whether liberal Democratic voters will accept Brown’s views on crime and punishment -- such as his strong endorsement last year of the three-strikes law -- and whether Republicans will believe he has moved beyond his liberal past.

“Jerry Brown is a human doubled-edged sword,” Schnur said. “There is no question that Mayor Brown has behaved much differently than Gov. Brown. That may alienate some committed liberals.

On the other hand, it’s probably not enough to win back conservatives, particularly those with long memories.”

State Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, who is barred by law from serving a third term, recently declined to run for governor and is seeking the state treasurer’s job. The lone Republican in the June 2006 primary for attorney general is state Sen. Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno).

Both Brown and Delgadillo are expected to portray themselves as crime fighters who also would focus on consumer protection.

On Wednesday, Delgadillo said “greed and arrogance of corporate power run amok” threaten Californians, who he said must struggle to make a living, find healthcare and secure their retirement.

“I understand that struggle, because I have lived it,” said Delgadillo, who was born in Highland Park. He became city attorney in 2001 and was reelected this year.

In an interview, Brown said he wants to tackle a “revolving door” that allows criminals to return to the street: “Not only to arrest the criminals but find ways in which job training, jobs within the prisons and reentry programs can work to deter the tremendous recidivism plaguing our communities.”

Brown said he thinks people see him “as a down-to-earth, tough-minded mayor that has been very successful in the day-to-day workings of a big city.” He said he knows about reducing crime because he works daily with Oakland police and lives in a tough part of town -- a rented loft in a converted Sears building -- where several hundred felons live within a few blocks.

“I came home and there was a shootout. I found a couple of shells,” Brown said, also noting that crime has been reduced in Oakland.

Since January, Delgadillo has raised $1.5 million for his campaign, compared with $1.2 million for Brown during the same time period. But the former governor has $1 million more available in his campaign account than Delgadillo, finance records show.

Poochigian has $2 million available in his campaign bank account and can take the next several months raising money without having to spend much of it. He is expected to wait until after the primary to focus his efforts, when the race between Brown and Delgadillo has been decided by voters.

“Obviously, they will be hammering it out,” said Ken Khachigian, a former aide to President Reagan and chief strategist for Poochigian. “Our intention is not to be anonymous during the primary, but on the other hand I don’t intend to spend our resources while most of the attention is on what I think will end up being a very angry primary on their side.”