Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jerry Brown’s year one performance as governor has been satisfactory – but hardly stellar, according to the collective wisdom of California’s leading political consultants.

As Governor Gandalf completes the first year of his septuagenarian third term as the state’s chief executive, Calbuzz asked our bipartisan Advisory Board of Leading Authorities on Practically Everything to assign Brown a numeric grade, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest possible ratings.

The extraordinarily scientific result: An average assessment of 6.1.

“While very effective in some ways, the first year turned into the non-stop bitter medicine show,” said one veteran Democratic strategist. “There needs to be a positive side to that coin.”

The highest mark Brown received was an “8,” given him by one Democrat and one Republican; his lowest score was a “4,” a rating also awarded by one member of each party.

“Weak year,” said one underwhelmed GOP consultant. “He didn’t develop and use the political honeymoon capital that a governor gets his first year…Because he has zero outside political organization he’s hostage to the unions and their money…Had much higher hopes he’d have some Nixon to China moments.”

The consultanate generally credited Brown for a serious effort in trying to find a substantive compromise on the budget with legislative Republicans. But several also dinged him for being politically naïve enough to believe such a thing was possible, while others thought his performance suffered from his mistaken belief that the size, scope and complexity of the governor’s job was the same as when he held the office from 1975-1983.

Here, in order from worst to first, are the complete comments offered by our advisory board.

Rating: 4

(D) – He spent the first five months almost exclusively chasing Republican votes for tax extensions that he was never going to get, then signed a budget with gimmicks he said he would never accept, and now is going to the ballot next year with a tax-raising measure for which he has raised no money. Other than signing a few hundred bills that he had nothing to do with, it’s hard to see what he has accomplished in his first year. Wilson, Davis and Schwarzenegger all did big things in their first year in office. What does Brown have to show for his first year — except middling approval ratings?

(R) – He didn’t develop and use the political honeymoon capital that a governor gets his first year. He didn’t deliver on what he promised, which was a ballot measure on taxes. Because he has zero outside political organization he’s hostage to the unions and their money. Stunningly, he hasn’t done a damn thing about job creation even though we’re 49th in the country for unemployment. Pretty tone deaf and he probably doesn’t know what to do. Weak year. Too big a government to run out of his hip pocket like he did in the 1970s. Had much higher hopes he’d have some Nixon to China moments.

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