Gov. Brown’s latest ploy: Paws for Prop. 30

Sutter, the dog belonging to Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, visits the Los Angeles Times on Friday during his campaign tour for Proposition 30.
(Carla Hall / Los Angeles Times)

There’s no doubt that Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet ballot measure, Proposition 30, which would raise the sales tax and increase the state’s top marginal income tax rate, is a lot less popular than his real pet, Sutter, a Pembroke Welsh corgi. So the governor, who has been out on the campaign trail talking up the ballot measure as a way to avert drastic cuts in school funding, has dispatched his dog to help out.

Sutter, who is 9 years old, is on a tour of 30 Democratic campaign offices (“30 for 30”) from Northern to Southern California. He’s really more of a shill than an actual campaigner. His job is to attract volunteers to the offices to make calls on behalf of Proposition 30. Any volunteers who make an hour or two of calls get to schmooze with Sutter and have their pictures taken with the pooch.

By all measures (his Facebook page, his mysterious Twitter account, stray anecdotes), he has excelled at his mission. In one campaign office, volunteers made him a necklace of dog treats that they bestowed on him like a lei.

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Sutter dropped by the Globe Lobby of the Los Angeles Times on Friday morning for a brief visit. Mostly he has bunked at people’s houses during the tour, although Thursday night found him ensconced in a motel in Burbank. Despite the grueling pace, he looked rested, his caramel and white coat shiny, his teeth clean. Constantly photographed on walks with Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, Sutter looks smaller than he does in photos. Apparently, that adage about the camera adding 10 pounds goes for dogs too.

In our lobby, he snacked on treats (the campaign trial has been tough on his waistline), posed for pictures, then reclined on his back while passers-by rubbed his tummy.

“He’s especially built for this kind of stuff,” said Jennifer Fearing, his handler on this journey, which started Oct. 23. “He travels well; he likes the attention.”

Fearing, the California state director for the Humane Society of the U.S., came up with the idea of escorting the dog around the state. She’s on vacation from the Humane Society to do this, but her organization did endorse Proposition 30.

In her professional role, she spent months lobbying on behalf of a controversial bill that bans the use of hounds on bear hunts. Brown signed the bill into law recently. “I offered months ago to do this, but it’s fair to say I would have reconsidered if the bill hadn’t been signed,” Fearing said with a laugh.

Then Sutter was off to a noon gig in San Diego, hopping into the back of a Chevy Malibu, chauffeured by a campaign volunteer. He makes three stops at Los Angeles campaign offices Saturday.

It’s unlikely Sutter will have a huge impact on the fate of Proposition 30, but the volunteers will have had some fun hanging out with him.


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