Elections

Fact check: Jerry Brown made time for debates before

When Gov. Jerry Brown announced this week that he would debate Republican Neel Kashkari once – but only once – ahead of the Nov. 4 election, his campaign said Brown could make time for only one debate because of his “demanding and time-consuming job.”

“No incumbent governor in California history has participated in more than 1 debate,” Brown’s political spokesman, Dan Newman, said in an email.

Not true.

The last incumbent governor to participate in more than one debate?

Jerry Brown.

Brown, governor before from 1975 to 1983, was running for re-election in 1978 when he proposed at least four debates with his Republican opponent, Evelle Younger.

Gray Davis, a Brown adviser who would later become governor, said at the time that debates “provide one of the best vehicles for an informed public to make decisions.”

The Brown and Younger campaigns negotiated for weeks over the format of the debates. Brown wanted a wide-open style, with candidates questioned by a panel of journalists. Younger wanted more structured debates limited by subject area.

The two sides settled on four face-to-face encounters, two traditional debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters and two joint appearances on TV news programs.

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