Free of the strictures of a competitive campaign – and any need to visit bigger media markets the weekend before Election Day – Gov. Jerry Brown addressed a small crowd Saturday near where his ancestors settled, ate part of a hot dog and steeped himself in what amounted to an early victory celebration.
“We haven’t had that many rallies,” Brown said, wearing hiking boots and addressing a few hundred supporters in a park. “But I don’t think we’ve needed them.”
In a meandering, nearly 25-minute-long address, the third-term governor read from a letter his paternal great-grandfather, August Schuckman, wrote in 1852 about difficulties crossing the Great Plains to California.
“The spirit of August Schuckman is still here,” Brown said. “It’s still in Williams, it’s still affecting California by all his descendants, which now number in hundreds. And I think it is well to keep in mind as we look to the future, to understand what we owe to those who’ve got us this far, and what we owe to those who are going to come after us.”
Brown, 76, lingered for several hours at the park, accompanied by his sisters and more distant relatives. The recorded sounds of Johnny Cash and Wilco played.
“I don’t want you to feel this is some walk down memory lane, but it’s really important that we know where we came from if we want to figure out where we’re going,” Brown said. “And certainly I’ve always been one to try to keep my eyes on the stars, but keep my feet on the ground.”
While Brown spoke, his opponent, Neel Kashkari, attended a get-out-the-vote event in Milpitas. Brown is ahead of the Republican by a double-digit percentage heading into Tuesday’s election.
The event was Brown’s last before Election Day and, politically speaking, had little tactical effect. There are only 12,296 voters in Colusa County, and Republicans far outnumber Democrats. Brown lost to Republican Meg Whitman in the county by more than 20 percentage points four years ago.
Brown has long-standing ties to the area. He said Saturday that he put a wood cabin about a month ago on land his family has owned for generations west of Williams.
“Pretty primitive,” he said. “No water, no toilet, you know, no sink. This is roughing it.”
Brown said the cabin was built in Oakland with the help of Phil Tagami, an Oakland developer, and delivered to the ranch. He said he is installing a caretaker on the land and will drill a well there within weeks.
A house will follow.
First lady Anne Gust Brown, the governor said, “would like more amenities.”
Editor’s note: This post was updated at 8:10 p.m. Saturday to correct information about Schuckman.
Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.