What's in a Name - NBC Bay Area

What's in a Name



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    Jerry Brown's ability to tap gushers of political contributions has the Gavin Newsom campaign in disarray.

    Sometimes a person's long-term family presence in politics can more than offset disadvantages, including a large financial war chest.  Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown is a case in point. 

    He is the counterpart of billionaire Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner.  Whitman already has poured $59 million into her quest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and has promised to spend as much as $150 million through the November general election if she is fortunate enough to win the nomination.  Poizner, the financial slouch compared to Whitman, has given his campaign only $20 million which, in any other year, would be an enormous edge. 

    These candidates are funneling huge amounts into their campaigns to gain familiarity with the voters.  

    But Jerry Brown doesn't need such an infusion, largely because he is already a household name.  But his legacy goes well beyond his own accomplishments. 

    It begins with his family's political history, which some might describe as nothing short of a political dynasty.  His father, Edmund G "Pat" Brown, was first elected California Attorney General in 1950 and served as Governor between 1958 and 1966. 

    Jerry, running as Edmund G. Brown, Jr., was elected Secretory of State in 1970 before winning his terms as Governor between 1974 and 1982. 

    Even sister Kathleen got into the family act when she was elected State Treasurer in 1990.  Her star faded in 1994, when she lost a gubernatorial bid to Republican Pete Wilson.  Still, she kept the Brown name front and center in California politics.  That notoriety for the Brown family comes at a price for others who want to share the same political space.  

    In California politics, the Brown name is the best-branded name in the state.  No wonder Meg Whitman feels she has to spend $150 million. 

    In her eyes, she's only trying to level a one-sided playing field.  But with a 65 year head start, the Brown name may be hard for her to catch, regardless of how much she spends.