Fitting That Jerry Brown Honors Ronald Reagan Since Reagan Aided Brown’s Political Career

For the  third time in as many years, Gov. Jerry Brown declares February 6 to be Ronald Reagan Day in California. To wit:

“From his humble Midwestern origins, through a successful career in Hollywood, and on to the highest offices in his state and country, Ronald Reagan lived the California dream. 

Unknown-3“On this 102nd anniversary of his birth, we remember not only his most celebrated achievements—his successful diplomacy with Mikhail Gorbachev and the economic recovery that occurred under his presidency. We also remember the turbulent years of his governorship, during which he proved his ability to manage the affairs of the state, and earlier, the talent and the skill he brought to his work in one of our state’s most renowned and beloved industries. 

“Above all, we remember the man: his irresistible optimism, faith and good humor. As a way to honor his memory, I recommend that Californians give as generously as they can to the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute.”

And for the second time in as many years — with the exception of changing “101st” to “102nd” and expunging an unnecessary comma after “faith” — Brown uses the same proclamation to do it.

(Now, that’s frugal!)

Brown’s first year in office, 2011, was the 100th annviersary of the former president’s birth and so the word “centennial” appears in that proclamation although some of its other words can be found in successor proclamations. Unknown-1

Odds are that Brown wouldn’t be where he is now — for better or worse — if not for Reagan. 

Here’s the full story but the guts of it is that when long-time Republican Secretary of State Frank M. Jordan died in office on March 29, 1970, Reagan had a chance to appoint his successor.

Whoever that Republican would be, they could fill out the last months of Jordan’s term and have an advantage in the November 1970 election by being  the incumbent.

But the originator of the so-called 11th Commandment — “Never Speak Ill of a Fellow Republican” – thought that was wrong.

“His basic belief was that by appointing somebody and making them an incumbent, it gave them an unfair political advantage over their opponent whoever it might be,” said George Steffes, Reagan’s legislative secretary from 1968 to 1972 and now a Capitol lobbyist.

UnknownReagan refused to appoint anyone who wouldn’t simply fill out the rest of Jordan’s term and not seek re-election.

That person was Henry Patrick Sullivan who went by “H.P.”

Two Republicans squared off for the 1970 Secretary of State nomination.

George Milias, a Gilroy Assemblyman, and James L. Flournoy, a Los Angeles lawyer.

Flournoy, the first African American nominated for partisan statewide office in California, beat Milias.

In the 1970 general election, the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State was a 32-year-old member of the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees. He had just been elected to the post in 1969 but had far better name ID than Flournoy: Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

Brown received almost 300,000 more votes than Flournoy.


(Editor’s Note: As part of the ongoing civic commitment of California’s Capitol, below are some Reagan quips about politics that could be inserted in Gov. Brown’s 2014  Reagan Day Proclamation to give it more individuality than its immediate predecessors.)

“Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”

“The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: if it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.”

“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”reagan

“I am not worried about the deficit. It’s big enough to take care of itself.”

“Government is like a baby — an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

“I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.”

Gov. Brown said something similar — but far less pithy —  in his State of the State speech on January 24: “Lay the Ten Commandments next to the California Education Code and you will see how far we have diverged in approach and in content from that which forms the basis of our legal system.”

(Alternatively, here’s Reagan on age. This anecdote is from February 1981, upon the occasion of his 70th birthday:) 

Speaking to a Washington Press Club dinner on February 4, the GOP president noted that the group was founded by six Washington newspaperwomen in 1919. After a slight pause: “Seems like only yesterday.”

As for middle age: “(It’s) when you’re faced with two temptations and you choose the one that will get you home by 9 o’clock.”

And, finally:

“Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.’ Ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.”

Brown turns 75 on April 7.



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