Continuing look back at the Democratic presidential...


March 06, 1992

IN OUR continuing look back at the Democratic presidential candidates, Salmagundi has found an intriguing contrast between two also-rans in the race, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and former Gov. Jerry Brown of California.

Back in 1986, "The Almanac of American Politics" said of Mr. Harkin, "Iowa once again has one of the nation's most articulate and aggressive liberal senators -- one capable of being a national leader, but not one guaranteed protection from political trouble at home" because of his liberal leanings in a generally conservative state.

But of the mercurial Mr. Brown, the 1986 Almanac reminisced, "It's hard to remember how popular Brown was in his early years in office, and how fresh and innovative he was. Personifying the affluent, skeptical young products of the baby boom generation who were suddenly a huge part of the California electorate, Brown pioneered, and applied to the actual business of government, a politics that is the exact reverse of the politics produced by the New Deal in most parts of America. . .

"But this politics turned out to have rather shallow roots itself. . . Brown's passion for innovation came to seem only a reflex against the past, an echo of his desire not to replicate his father's policies . . . his rigorous skepticism came to seem only corrosive cynicism."

Voters no longer felt "he was a uniquely candid, sincere politician; the man who won 59 percent in California's [1976] Democratic presidential primary won only 4 percent four years later."

He won 8 percent of the primary vote in Maryland Tuesday -- 12 years since the last Brown presidential quest.

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