To the surprise of no one, septuagenarian U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer confirmed Thursday (in a cheesy video) that she will not seek re-election in two years, offering California Democrats a terrific opportunity to send their best possible successor to Washington: Jerry Brown.
Sure, Governor Gandalf at 76 is even older than the retiring Babs, but his good genes (remember Aunt Connie?) plus good exercise and diet habits, would make the age issue a non-starter for him.
More importantly, his singular political skills, encyclopedic policy knowledge and commitment to the overarching importance of addressing climate change in a serious way put him bald head and shoulders above the potential field of careerist mediocrities otherwise lusting for Boxer’s seat.
Instead of just four more years of Jerry Brown, California might get another 10 or more.
While Boxer has served as a fierce advocate for women, the environment and progressive causes, Brown has actually governed – a skill that could be put to good use in Washington when the Democrats, after 2016, will most likely control the White House and have retaken the Senate.
As for Prince Gavin and Queen Kamala, here’s how the deal could go down: Two years into his term, Brown hands off the keys to the horseshoe to 47-year old Lieutenant Governor Newsom (who would get the benefit of two years of on-the-job training before seeking the post on his own) while 50-year old Attorney General Harris would be the odds-on favorite to replace (by then) 85-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Everybody’s a winner!
As for the rest of the lean and hungry crowd — ex-L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, billionaire enviro Tom Steyer, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Treasurer John Chiang, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, and any other ambitious types– would just have to stand down if Jerry goes for Senate. Key reason: they’d get creamed.
However, key sources close to our imagination suggest he shouldn’t dismiss the possibility out of hand, for at least three reasons:
1) Having just been re-elected, he’d have a free ride to go for Senate in 2016;
2) Borrr-dom. Brown already straightened out the mess in Sacramento, as the new/old sheriff in town and, at this point, can handle his duties there with one hand affixed to his lumbar sacrum;
3) Having accomplished the Freudian karmic task of surpassing his late father, Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, for longevity as governor, he can now set about avenging the one and only political loss of his life, his defeat to Pete Wilson in the 1982 Senate race.
There are, to be sure, certain uncertainties with the bold Calbuzz plan.
Others in history who have tried tricky Governor-Senate tradeoff moves have wished they hadn’t – hello Bill Knowland! And Harris would be taking the biggest political chance in betting on Difi to exit the Capitol Hill premises four years hence, when Herself might decide she wants to break Cornelius Cole’s record as the oldest Senator in the history of the nation.
But if Brown decides to go, she wouldn’t have much choice.
Bottom line: Let’s be blunt: after 34 years in Congress, Boxer will probably be best remembered for a $600 toilet seat. Clearly, we credit her for being a passionate, consistent and voluble voice for women’s issues and the environment. And whenever a spokesperson for a progressive cause was needed, the diminutive Boxer could be counted to stand on her literal little soapbox and make an articulate case.
But she will not – despite the accomplishments she claims – be remembered like Alan Cranston as an accomplished lawmaker, any more than Pete Wilson or John Tunney.
Brown would be a different kind of advocate – controversial by dint of his argumentative skills, iconoclastic personality and
over-weaning overweening intellect. What kind of grade he’d get on “plays well with others” is less certain.
But it would surely be worth the price of admission. Run Jerry Run!