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You Heard It Here First, Last Week

Peter and others thought I was being more than a bit fanciful last week with the notion that Gov. Jerry Brown might well decide to challenge Obama in 2012.  But the idea seems to be catching on.  This, from Boston Phoenix columnist Steven Stark:

Who could play that role initially? Some are touting former Indiana senator and governor Evan Bayh, but he's untested and not particularly articulate. A far better bet is newly elected California governor Jerry Brown -- a kind of Eugene McCarthy-esque figure -- who once bragged that he was going to move left and right at the same time. He is, of course, a serial presidential candidate, having run three times previously (1976, 1980, 1992). Though he failed each time, he twice ran impressively, finishing third in '76 after entering late in the process, winning (or having friendly delegates do so) in Maryland, California, Nevada, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. In 1992, on a financial shoestring, he finished second -- winning Maine, Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont, and Alaska, while losing California to Bill Clinton, 48-41 percent.

For Brown, the next nine months are critical, as he'll attempt to use his visibility as governor of the nation's most populous state to become a kind of Democratic Chris Christie, standing up to special interests and proposing bold new fiscal policies. If he does, he could be a formidable 2012 challenger, as he's shown a propensity in the past for running on populist themes (term limits, campaign-finance reform), while taking positions that could attract labor support (he was anti-NAFTA) and even backing from conservatives (he has supported a flat tax). As a Catholic, he does have some appeal to the working-class "Hillary Democrats" -- a part of the reason why he's done well in New England in the past.

Could he beat Obama? It's obviously a long shot. But the hope among some is that his entry into the race would so weaken Obama that Clinton might consider getting in, as Robert Kennedy once did, able to tap into a family-built organization in a matter of days. Some even harbor hopes that, under pressure from his own party, Obama might walk away from the job after one term. Stranger things have happened.

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Discussions - 5 Comments

You're just trying to cheer us up.

The only thing stranger than Obama walking away from the presidency, playing Lyndon Johnson, would be the rest of the nation outside of California taking a Jerry Brown presidential bid seriously.

Does anyone else see Jerry Brown as "a kind of Eugene McCarthy-esque figure"? McGovern-esque, maybe.

Lord....No.
He is the Mad Hatter....without the core values.

I don't think he's married. Am I wrong? You can be a fat president, but not a bachelor one these days.

Yes, he's married. Brown's wife, Anne Gust, has been a top aide for years. She ran his campaigns for AG and the late campaign for governor.

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