Two Long-time GOP Strategists Advise Democrat Jerry Brown
Jack Flanigan, a veteran GOP political strategist, is among the informal network of advisers Attorney General Jerry Brown consults in his race for governor.
Flanigan said he has no formal role in Brown’s campaign, just offers advice when Brown seeks it.
“I basically respond to his questions. What do you think about X? Who is this person? Why is this person important? What do I do” Probing questions that pop up during the day that he thinks I have special insight into by being Republican.”
Politically, Flanigan and Brown make quite the political odd couple. Brown, governor from 1974 to 1982, ran for the U.S.
Senate in 1982 against Flanigan’s long-time friend and political patron, former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson.
Wilson eked out the win, criticizing Brown for, among numerous other things, his appointment of Rose Bird, a death penalty opponent, as chief justice of the state supreme court.
Flanigan managed Wilson’s 1975 re-election campaign as mayor of San Diego and has been closely aligned with Wilson’s political career ever since.
Wilson is the chair of Republican Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor.
In 1992, Flanigan was one of two California co-chairs of George Bush and Dan Quayle’s unsuccessful re-election.
Flanigan also founded California Strategies, a Capitol public affairs firm, with Wilson’s former chief of staff, Bob White.
White was instrumental in launching Whitman’s candidacy and the 2003 candidacy of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“I have a great deal of respect For Meg Whitman and (Whitman’s GOP primary opponent, Insurance Commissioner) Steve Poizner,” Flanigan said. “But I really believe we’ve got so little time left in terms of fixing California, I’m afraid one more governor with large Democratic majorities in the Legislature will keep us in gridlock.”
Flanigan said Brown initiated the contact and that two have been talking, off-and-on, for six months.
Also advising Brown is Don Sipple, a long-time GOP media consultant who, like Flanigan, is closely aligned with Wilson and White. Sipple helped Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall campaign and has produced spots for numerous ballot measures.
“I think Jerry’s whole approach is to try and reach out and find folks from the other side of the aisle because, if he becomes governor, in order to find solutions he will desperately need help from the Republican side,” Flanigan said.
Brown’s campaign said the candidate confers with all kinds of people.
“Jerry benefits and seeks out the advice of all kinds of people from all walks of life. Those people are Republicans and Democrats and they come from a variety of professions and personal backgrounds,” said Sterling Clifford, a campaign spokesman. “Lots and lots of people are part of that group.”
Flanigan and White’s competing candidate alliances aren’t a novelty at California Strategies.
Former Senate GOP leader Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga is a member of the firm and chairs Poizner’s gubernatorial campaign.
Former Assemblyman Rusty Areias, another of the firm’s principles, backs Brown and has hosted several fundraisers for him.
Former Gov. Gray Davis’ campaign manager, Garry South, formerly employed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, now consults for Newsom’s rival for the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.
Jason Kinney, also of California Strategies, is Newsom’s campaign spokesman.
“When Bob and I started the firm, the firm was never going to get involved in a partisan race but because of the nature of the people in the firm, individuals are partisan,” Flanigan said. “Everyone in California Strategies does their own deal. There’s a firewall – we just don’t talk to each other about the other campaigns.”
(Top right: Jack Flanigan. Left: Pete Wilson as U.S. Senator. Below WIlson: Bob White. Bottom right: Jerry Brown.)
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