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Jerry's Hiring Bias

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Jerry's Hiring Bias

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California Gov. Jerry Brown delivers a keynote address during the 2011 Pacific Coast Builders Conference.

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Gov. Jerry Brown got a late start on hiring, at least in part because he spent his first six months focused on the budget.

But now his administration has taken enough shape that the assessments of his appointments are beginning.

Two assessments published over the weekend focus less on what Brown's administration is -- and more on what it is not.

And what it is not is: not Republican, and not Southern Californian.

The Associated Press, in a story with a critical tone, reported that for all Brown's talk about the value of crossing party lines, his appointments have been overwhelmingly Democratic -- as many as 8 out of every 10.

That compares unfavorably -- at least for the bipartisan-minded -- to Gov. Schwarzenegger, whose appointees were 54 percent Republican.

Brown's key picks include many folks drawn from his strongest campaign supporters -- unions that represent public workers.

Tom Elias, the independent columnist, reported that Brown's appointees have come overwhelmingly from Northern California -- where he was born, where he lives, and where he served as mayor -- even though two-thirds of Californians live in the south. Elias concedes that this tilt north was also true under Southern California governors -- Schwarzenegger, Davis, Deukmejian -- for reasons of geography and experience:

One reason there's always some imbalance is that a strong cadre of experienced bureaucrats already lives in and around Sacramento, often tapped for the second tier of appointees, deputy directors of departments and the like. The other reason is that it can be tough to get people from Southern and Central California to move to Sacramento for work when their lives and families are well-established.

But the northern tilt has been even stronger under Brown.

Neither this geographic bias, nor the Democratic bias, should be unexpected. This is a Democratic governor from Northern California after all. But it is another reminder that Brown, for all his reputation as a rebel, is behaving these days like a conventional Democratic politician.

Which is why, if there's going to be a new direction for a state that needs both, it will come from outside this administration, not from within it.

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