Meg Whitman Campaign Reminiscent of 1994’s Kathleen Brown Campaign

Who knew Bill Clinton enjoyed Kathleen Brown and Dianne Feinstein at the same time?

Meg Whitman is heavily advertising on television in a campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor.  It appears the Republican power structure has tried to clear the way for her by urging another candidate, Bill Campbell, to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Barbara Boxer.  

As I have seen Whitman’s ads on T.V. – ads that feature her speaking about what she believes the priorities for California State Government should be – cut the size of government, repair our education system and create jobs – I have sensed that I have heard this before.   In pondering that memory, it came to me. 

Kathleen Brown, Jerry Brown’s sister and California’s State Treasurer, ran for Governor in 1994 with a very similar series of T.V. ads.In those ads Brown conveyed her beliefs that we (as a State) needed certain things and ought to do certain things. But, she never provided any specifics on how she thought she could get those things done if she was elected Governor. 

She was soundly defeated in the election by Republican Pete Wilson as he sought his second term as Governor.  Some of us believed that Wilson was vulnerable in that election, and could have been defeated by a campaign of specifics.  However, Brown chose a campaign of themes without any specifics, and the majority of voters shunned the vagueness of Brown. 

We have seen from our current experience with the Gubernator that regardless of the stated priorities of a Governor he or she cannot carry out their agenda without the support of a majority of the Legislature, and in the case of the State budget a 2/3rds level of legislative support.  Truth be known, the authority of the Governor is very limited, and can be thwarted by the Legislature. 

Whitman is repeating the approach of the 1994 Kathleen Brown campaign – offering themes without any specifics on how she thinks she can get it done if elected Governor. It didn’t work for Kathleen Brown. Will it work for Meg Whitman, or is the public now knowledgeable enough to understand that themes do not bring change, detailed plans along with support from the Legislature is what it takes? 

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.