By Colleen O’Connor
I know. Gov. Jerry Brown dislikes the Clintons.
I was at the Democratic National Convention in 1992 when Brown’s delegates were relegated to the back benches of the nominating floor — if they got any seats at all — and when Clinton supporters blew whistles as Brown attempted to speak to a crowded room of delegates.
This was the Clintons’ at their least democratic. They crushed dissent with micromanaging diligence. That is what campaigns do: Crush their opponents.
Brown still carries the scars. And now, over three decades later, Brown has the upper hand.
Brown sought the presidency, himself, three times — all for different reasons. However, one drive for these races (1976, 1980, 1992), was a desire to best his father’s legacy—as one of the great governors in California history.
Now comes the chance.
News reports surfaced about an hour and a half meeting between both Brown and Bill Clinton this last week, just days before California’s vote rich primary, the “big enchilada” as Bernie Sanders calls it.
Sanders, despite all the hoopla, imaginative math, and colorful language calling for a “revolution,” cannot win the nomination. The primary race is over. Clinton has won. Everyone knows this, including Bernie Sanders, but his campaign keeps running on mathematical nonsense and dreams of a Clinton implosion. Not likely.
However, the general election, against the phenomenon named Donald Trump, is another story. It could go either way. Thus, the meeting, at Jerry Brown’s invitation, in the newly refurbished Governor’s Mansion.
Then, on Tuesday morning, the big announcement.
With Brown endorsing Clinton, it will be a Grand Slam for California.
Why? Everybody involved wins.
First, Clinton wins because if she defeats Sanders by more than a few points, she can turn her full attention to the general election; thus, saving money, time, and energy now spent fighting on two fronts. A convincing win would also dampen the Sanders’ push for a contested, combative convention.
Second, should Clinton win California convincingly, the state would have a sympathetic friend in the White House—with a shot at more federal money—for Brown’s bullet train project; for the environment, water rights, homeless aid, firefighting, high-tech research, etc.
Third, Brown, himself, would win because his endorsement will be rewarded handsomely. That is Politics 101.
Several options are realistic.
The vice presidency (not likely as Clinton can carry California by herself, even if Trump tries to put it in play—as he has threatened to do. She needs a swing state VP).
A possible Cabinet appointment. This would not be a deal clincher. It is below Brown’s worth.
Most attractive, an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. An enviable slot for any Governor, especially one like Brown — who is termed out and unlikely to retire to his farmland to plant crops and write books. He comes from a family of long-lived genes. He needs action and influence.
To make this happen, someone needs to be Sanders’ best friend—and tell him the truth.
Because no one Sanders listens to, is telling him the truth. It’s over. And Trump is galloping to a serious general election fight.
Gov. Howard Dean, a 2004 Democratic presidential contender—also from Vermont—was trailing badly when a good friend called to tell him the truth. The math was obvious. It was over. This friend convinced Dean to end his campaign with the words that someone close needs to tell Sanders: “This is about the country. It’s not about you.” That friend was Al Gore.
Dean ended his campaign.
Brown could be such a friend to Sanders. But, he needs time to tell those backing the Vermont Senator, that there is more to be gained by ending the campaign “gracefully” than dragging on like other “aggrieved” candidates—railing against “the rigged system.” Especially, since Sanders and his team knew the rules before he entered the fray.
That, too, is Politics 101.
Colleen O’Connor is a retired college history professor.