After a long and bumpy ride, former San Francisco Supervisor Amos Brown isn't quite dismounting from the Democratic donkey — but he is leading it in an unexpected direction. Perhaps following the wafting odor of cigar smoke, he has steered his ass to Governor Schwarzenegger's big tent. Three weeks ago, Brown announced that he would support Schwarzenegger's bid for re-election.
Although it may be scant comfort to Democratic challenger Phil Angelides, Brown swears that he's not abandoning his party. “My loyalty is still to the Democratic Party, but I'm a Democrat for Schwarzenegger, I'm for the man and his policies,” he says.
Brown has been a stalwart of S.F.'s Democratic circles for decades — he was a staunch ally of Willie Brown, and is chummy with Bill Clinton. Yet he's now deserting California's earnest Democratic standard-bearer, partially out of pique. “The truth of the matter is, Mr. Angelides never did reach out to me at all,” he says. “And the Democrats must not take African-Americans for granted, and think that they have nowhere else to go.”
Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church in the Western Addition, met the governor in April at a sit-down event with a few of the Bay Area's leading black ministers. He says he was impressed with what Schwarzenegger was planning for his second term, in particular, Schwarzenegger's stated commitments to improving schools and after-school programs and to prison reform that emphasizes rehabilitation.
But Angelides isn't exactly against improving California's schools, nor has he come out in favor of letting young men and women rot in jail. So what made the difference?
“[Schwarzenegger] has committed himself to work with faith-based communities,” Brown explains. “We're going to do some rehabilitation programs and training in the prison, and also do some re-entry programs in the community.” Brown also expects faith-based groups to get involved with after-school programs; he says churches around the state are organizing to take advantage of the $54 million in state funding available to them.
If this sounds a bit like quid pro quo — well, it is, Brown says. “All of life is a quid pro quo,” he states. “As long what you're getting is worth it, what's the difference?