Josiah Horton Beeman V, 70; Aide to Gov. Jerry Brown, Envoy, Lobbyist

Times Staff Writer

Josiah Horton Beeman V, who ran three of Gov. Jerry Brown’s political campaigns before quitting in misery and calling Brown’s 1980 presidential bid “the worst political experience” of his life, has died. He was 70.

Beeman, who later served as ambassador to New Zealand and Western Samoa, died of kidney failure June 14 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.

When he resigned as Brown’s national campaign manager, Beeman said the unsuccessful campaign proved that a candidate couldn’t win by relying on “holistic health groups, followers of the swami and the no-nukes” vote.

He spoke with the authority of a Presbyterian lay minister, which he was, and often laced his observations with humor.


In 1994, President Clinton made him ambassador to the two South Pacific nations -- a single position based in Wellington that Beeman held five years. (Samoa dropped the “Western” from its name in 1997.)

He was credited with improving U.S. relations with New Zealand, which had been strained by New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy.

During Beeman’s tenure, Clinton made the first visit by a U.S. president to that country in 32 years.

The ambassadorship was Beeman’s first and last diplomatic post, a fact that he found freeing, because it allowed him to be frank without worrying about harming his career.

“Because I come out of a political background myself, I look at diplomacy as applied politics,” Beeman told the Wellington Evening Post in 1999.

After returning from New Zealand, Beeman was chief of staff for the U.S. International Broadcasting Agency -- the umbrella group for Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, among other stations. He retired from that position in 2001.

Beeman was born Oct. 8, 1935, in San Francisco. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Reed College in Portland, Ore., and a master’s in government from San Francisco State in the late 1950s.

After serving as an aide to Rep. Phillip Burton (D-San Francisco) for four years, Beeman was appointed to fill the seat vacated by George Moscone on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1967. He served only 10 months, because he lost the election for a full term.

He went back to work for Burton but left politics in 1969 for the United Presbyterian Church.

As director of the Washington office, Beeman represented the church at international meetings with other denominations.

Jumping back into politics in 1975, he became staff director of the House Democratic Caucus, which Burton headed. Later that year, Brown appointed Beeman as California’s lobbyist in Washington, a position he held until his relationship with the governor soured.

For more than a decade, Beeman ran his own lobbying firm in Sacramento, where he represented the interests of state agencies and health organizations.

A movie buff who said he had seen “Casablanca” at least 50 times, Beeman also collected walking canes and in 1993 helped organize the first International Cane Collectors’ Conference in the United States.

Beeman was divorced from his first wife. He is survived by Susan L. Beeman, his wife of 10 years; their two children, Olivia Louise Beeman and Josiah Horton Beeman VI, all of Falls Church, Va.; and a sister.