Brown scores well in new poll, sits on sizable campaign war chest

9:05 PM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
Gov. Jerry Brown
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He's not a declared candidate for a record fourth term as governor -- yet -- but these certainly do seem to be pretty good times for Jerry Brown.

That's the conclusion that can be drawn from his relatively positive reviews in the press, the fat wad of cash sitting in his campaign account, and a new poll showing strong job approval numbers 16 months before voters go to the polls.

VIDEO: Poll: Majority of Californians oppose new fracking

The iconoclastic Democrat is still officially keeping quiet on whether he'll run again (his wife sounded encouraging in a recent chat), but his 'Brown for Governor 2014' campaign account is clearly humming.

Wednesday's semi-annual campaign finance report shows the governor had $10 million in the bank as of June 30, having raised about $3 million in the last seven months.

Meantime, a new poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California finds 54 percent of likely voters approve of the job Brown is doing as governor.  That's a high water mark for the veteran pol, and six points higher than PPIC's May survey. 

The new poll finds a lower approval rating among all adults (more of them say they're undecided than the sample of likely voters), but the reality is that Brown's popularity really only counts with those who cast ballots.

Even a healthy dose of Republicans like the way the governor's doing things in Sacramento; Brown's GOP support in the new PPIC poll is at 29 percent.

That may only reinforce the conventional wisdom that there's probably no Republican who can stop Brown from being elected to another four year term.  Neither of the two GOP contenders who have announced an interest -- former lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado and San Bernardino County assemblymember Tim Donnelly -- are even in the same ballpark when it comes to political cash.

Maldonado, who lost a race for Congress in 2012, reported raising about $300,000 in the first six months of the year, but had more debts ($47,942) than he had cash left in the bank ($44,595); Donnelly, who also has an account for a possible 2014 re-election to the Assembly, raised $83,148 between January and June and had only $27,418 in the bank as of June 30.

Part of Brown's winning streak may lie in how closely he's aligned his policy positions to where the polls say most Californians see things:  larger debt repayments as part of the state budget, opposition to a court-ordered release of prison inmates, and a strong push to enact the state's 2006 landmark climate change law.

But the new PPIC poll presents a slight crack in the political armor for the governor when it comes to environmental issues.  Only 44 percent of likely voters give Brown good marks in that sector, with noticeable weakening among Democrats and independents when compared to overall job approval.

And the governor faces a test in the next two months on the increasingly contentious issue of hydraulic fracking to drill for oil. 51 percent of those surveyed in the new poll oppose expanded fracking in California; and of those who support expanded operations, 62 percent favor increased regulation.

Brown, in a question posed at a recent news conference, tried hard to avoid wading into the fracking debate, even more and more environmental groups want an outright moratorium.  Earlier this year, he seemed to encourage the use of the drilling method.  And he may very well get a bill outlining new fracking rules by the time the Legislature adjourns for the year on September 13.

So the governor has some time.  But at this juncture, in the homestretch of his third year of the term and sounding like a candidate for 2014... Jerry Brown probably likes his odds.

NOTE: This post was updated at 9:27 p.m. with the newly released campaign finance report from gubernatorial candidate Abel Maldonado.


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