Willie Brown warns Dems they may be in for a surprise with Cox

Nobody ever called the sharp, luxury-loving, and canny-as-a-sewer-rat Willie Brown stupid.

So it's worth paying attention when the 84-year-old former speaker of the California statehouse, former mayor of San Francisco, and political fixer who "made" his old girlfriend Kamala Harris into a senator warns his fellow Democrats that they may be in for a surprise with John Cox, the Republican who unexpectedly secured a second spot on the gubernatorial ticket for the November midterms, along with former mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom.

In cold realist terms, Brown wrote in his San Francisco Chronicle column:

Businessman John Cox is not to be underestimated.  Coming out of the gate in the general election campaign, Cox is looking more in tune with many California voters, both in substance and style, than Newsom.

Newsom is clearly a celebrity, and he was acting like one during his "Governor Newsom" victory stroll through the Ferry Building the day after the primary.  Cox comes across much less as a polished politician and more like the guy who would help you load your sport utility vehicle for a family weekend trip to Clear Lake.

In other words, Newsom looks like a wimp in his photos, as I noted here last week, and his supporters are showing an enthusiasm deficit, while Cox is a tough-as-nails competitor who's been rather mean to his fellow Republican, Travis Allen (who has yet to endorse him) and actually likes it when Democrats try to slime him with the "Trump" label.  The more they holler "Trump" at Cox, the better he does.

Brown notes that the gas tax is a potent issue, and the fact that Democrats have been in uncontested power for years and years, as the schools have gone downhill and housing costs have shot through the roof, does not leave them in a position of advantage.  He said Cox's victory speech was indicative of how he would take on Democrats, and it appears Cox is hitting at them right where it hurts.  If Democrats have an enthusiasm gap for this namby-pamby pretty boy Gavin Newsom (while his campaign ads gag-inducingly extol his "courage"), and Republicans are energized, as they were with President Trump, then they are at least in for a fight for that governor's spot.  Enthusiasm gaps can make all the difference when there is a registration gap, which is the case in California.

Brown does make his fellow Dems feel good by saying he thinks Newsom will win, and who knows?  He may be right.  But he warns them it won't be easy, given that the issues that matter to voters are going unaddressed by Democrats.

Brown's warning is basically a political realist's wake-up call to Democrats.  They've been living in la-la land for too long, and they think the next vote in November will be a cruise to victory.  From our perspective, we can only hope they ignore and insult Brown for that and go their merry way, convinced voters will always adore them and vote for the same-old, same-old blue party that has turned the state into a dump.  It's kind of exciting now.  Let's see what happens.

Image Credit: Freedom to Marry via Flickr, CC SA-BY 2.0.

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