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October 20, 2003
Why Did Willie Brown Join Arnold?

Mickey Kaus answers one of my questions regarding the Schwarzenegger transition team:

Brown had been widely expected to run for the Bay Area Senate seat now held by powerful Senate President pro Tem John Burton, who will be termed out next year....But Schwarzenegger is wildly unpopular in this district--teaming up with the Governor-elect would seem suicidal for Brown. It makes sense only if you assume Brown has abandoned plans to run for the seat. Why might he do that? Perhaps because he's seen private polls like the one kausfiles just saw--showing him with an unfavorability rating in the district of 40 percent, way above that of potential rivals.

Brown's no dummy, and he's not about to pick a fight he's likely to lose, but I can't help thinking that once he got serious about the race that he would win it anyway, despite the early polling numbers. This is the guy who got himself elected Speaker of the Assembly when the Republicans had a majority. (Don't ask, it's too painful.) He's a political vampire, far more so than Nixon. Never count this guy out. Co-opting him may have been the smartest thing that Arnold does in his transition period.

My guess is that Brown is trying to polish up some centrist credentials and lose some of his uber-partisan reputation. While the Governator may be wildly unpopular in Burton's district (big surprise there), the recall has made it clear that Californians are tiring quickly of extreme politics from both sides and want more compromise and consensus in government. It would not surprise me in the least if Brown is the first Democrat to really smell the coffee.

[Note: edited to make clear that I think Brown would win the State Senate race if he chose to run, instead of "wouldn't win it".]

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 20, 2003 7:43 AM

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