Jack Ohman editorial cartoons and blog

In California politics, the future is now...

Published: Friday, Jun. 21, 2013 - 6:04 pm

Senate President Darrell Steinberg was asked about his future plans the other day, and he said he might indeed be interested in running for Sacramento mayor in 2016. Or, alternatively, he also has set up a committee to explore a potential race for Lt. Governor in 2018.

For the record, today is June 21, 2013.

This isn't really about Sen. Steinberg, who by most accounts is a fine fellow and perfectly qualified for either post. It's more about the process that requires someone like him to start putting down markers for elections five years in the future.

I had breakfast with a younger politico-type on Friday, and she noted that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was something like a done deal for a governor's race after the expected re-re-re-re-re (I lost count) election of Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014. That means the mayor is also sniffing around for a job that he wouldn't get until 2019. 

When you get into your fifties, you start doing a backwards clock until 65. When you're in your thirties, it's still pretty much all blue sky. That assumes, of course, you make it to 65, which I don't. Gov. Brown has an unusual shotclock, so he may well have something up his sleeve for 2022 or 2026. Maybe 2030. I rule nothing out: West Virginia once had a governor, Cecil Underwood, who served in the 1950s as the nation's youngest governor, and then, in the late 1990s, as the nation's oldest governor. I am certain Gov. Brown doesn't either.

The process that we have set up, not only in California but everywhere, makes people like Steinberg, Villaraigosa, and about 27,000 other elected officials start making plans for dates in the future that used to be reserved for monarchs and not politicians. 

Why? Well, it's a combination of term-limited pols trying to work their career Rubik's Cube and their need to raise astronomical amounts of money.

So while you're living your non-political life, wondering if you've got enough energy to get to next Friday, there is a class of people who are planning things out until the 22nd century. 

That governor's race in California is 2202, incidentally.

It's not too late to start fundraising.

Read more articles by Jack Ohman

Editorial Cartoonist Jack Ohman

Jack Ohman Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award, the national SPJ Award, the National Headliner Award, the Overseas Press Club Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. He has written and illustrated 10 books, many of them about fly fishing. Jack has three grown children.

Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com.

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