As our state struggles through a painful period of history, marked by widespread economic dislocation and social tumult, California needs a healing leader whose politics are based on core values of community and compassion, not cynicism and divisiveness.
That is why we endorse Kathleen Brown for governor.
Overwhelmingly outspent by Republican incumbent Pete Wilson, whose coffers have been filled with millions of dollars from corporate special interests, Brown has run an insurgent campaign that has addressed the bread-and-butter concerns of working class families with an intelligent and detailed plan to create jobs and rejuvenate California's economy. Equally important, she has appealed to people's hopes instead of their fears by courageously rejecting the mean-spirited race-baiting and immigrant-bashing stirred up by Wilson's pet initiative, Proposition 187.
If there was no other issue in the governor's race, Proposition 187 by itself would be enough to disqualify Wilson for re-election. It is not surprising that the owners of both the Chronicle and Examiner saw fit to endorse Wilson, whose corporate privileged Republicanism mirrors their own self-interest.
What was politically dishonest was that both papers sang Wilson's praises while trying to distance themselves from his initiative to deny basic health benefits to undocumented immigrants and education to their children, meanwhile turning every teacher and medical worker in the state into an agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Trying to separate Wilson's governorship from Proposition 187 is somewhat like saying that Charles Manson would have been a great guitar player, except for Sharon Tate.
But Proposition 187 is only one of many reasons to support Brown over Wilson. His attempt to point a finger of blame at immigrants is a transparent bid to detract attention from his own failed record: tax breaks for the wealthiest Californians coupled with cuts in health and welfare for the poorest; an arms-race mentality of building more and more prisons at the expense of public education; pandering to the right-wing, Pat Robertson Republicans with his 1991 veto of gay rights legislation and his 1992 equivocations on a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion.
On these and many other issues, Kathleen Brown is clearly a superior candidate, which is why she was endorsed by the California Federation of Labor, the San Francisco Labor Council and many other union organizations across the state.
Brown's plan includes an innovative package of job retraining programs and small business incentives to spur investment and entrepreneurship that can help ease the loss of half-a-million good-paying manufacturing jobs due to defense cutbacks and military base closures.
Significantly, she also calls for restoration of the higher tax rate for the richest Californians, which was cut by Wilson at a cost of nearly $1 billion to education and other programs.
She has built a strong record as California's Treasurer, and her plan to erase Wilson's massive budget deficit through a long-term bonding program -- in contrast to the incumbents' Ponzi scheme budget -- demonstrates the fiscal realism and toughness she would bring to the job of governor.
As the daughter and sister of pro-labor governors, Brown's support of the union movement is instinctive and deeply rooted in her family's history and politics.
Above all else, Kathleen Brown, unlike Pete Wilson, understands that the growing diversity of California's population is a strength to be nurtured, not a tool to be used by political opportunists to drive a wedge between our people.
Independent polls show the governor's race tightened during the final days of the campaign. Progressives can pull off an upset if they do not become demoralized.