Publisher’s Note: This is the first post in a series dedicated to assessing the relationship between California’s Lieutenant Governors and the Governors whom they served under, from 1959 until 2014.
A casual glance at the relationship between Lieutenant Governor Glenn Anderson and Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown shows a spirit of cooperation between the two, with Brown delegating tasks to Anderson, and the Lieutenant Governor studiously avoiding any appearance of conflict with Brown’s legislative agenda. However, a more nuanced study of their relationship over time appears to show Governor Brown displaying growing unease with Anderson as his deputy, especially after the Watts Riot and Anderson’s role in that event became public fodder.
In the early years of their service together, Brown designated the Lieutenant Governor as an official member of his cabinet, and in 1963 appointed him to serve as coordinator with local government. Later in 1963, during an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Anderson indicated his primary task was assisting with “…helping to sell the Governor’s program,” and he expressed no desire to publicly criticize Brown. Interestingly, Anderson also expressed during that interview a strong reluctance to the possibility of carrying out one of the mandated duties of the Lieutenant Governor, that of casting a tie-breaking vote in the State Senate if called upon to do so (9/1/63, G2).
However, beginning with the 1962 Democratic primary, signs begin to show that Brown may have not completely supported Anderson. During the 1962 primary, Anderson found himself with an opponent, none other than the incumbent District Attorney of Los Angeles County, William B. McKesson. Could Governor Brown have stepped in and dissuaded McKesson from running against Anderson? Quite possibly, but that does not appear to have occurred; Anderson survived the primary, and went on to be re-elected in November for a second term along with Brown.
Beginning in 1965, Brown again began appearing in news items related to potential opponents to Anderson. In February, 1965, Brown denied reports that he had decided to support Assembly Speaker Jess Unruh over Anderson for the post in 1966, and again reiterated his support for the incumbent Lieutenant Governor. And, in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts Riot, as Anderson’s role in summoning the National Guard to Los Angeles was debated, those news items began to appear more frequently, and Brown’s support appeared more tepid.
As Acting Governor during Governor Brown’s trip to Greece in August of 1965, Anderson was in charge when the Watts Riot broke out. The Lieutenant Governor appears to have delayed by several hours issuing an order for the National Guard to be called out to the streets of Los Angeles. In early December, 1965, the McCone Commission, the official body charged with investigating the root causes of the Watts Riot indicated that Anderson “hesitated when he should have acted” when directing the Guard out of their armories.
And, Governor Brown did not defend Anderson’s actions as Acting Governor during the Watts crisis until December 24, 1965, eighteen days after the McCone Commission had scolded the Lieutenant Governor. It appears that Brown waited until Christmas Eve, a day in which newspaper reading isn’t at the top of everyone’s list, so that little media attention would be placed upon his defense of Anderson. In the aftermath of Watts, Sam Yorty, the Mayor of Los Angeles, indicated to the Los Angeles Times that he had proposed to Brown the idea of running against Anderson in the 1966 Democratic primary election. According to Yorty, Brown pondered the idea, then rejected it (11/4/65, pp. 3).
The 1966 Democratic primary election saw Anderson draw two opponents. One of those opponents to Anderson, Lloyd Hand, may have been Brown’s stealth candidate in that particular race. First, Hand, prior to suddenly deciding to run for Lieutenant Governor one Friday afternoon in Washington, worked in the Johnson Administration as his liaison to California, and Brown’s close ties to LBJ were something the Governor made no attempt to hide. Indeed, according to the Los Angeles Times Brown appeared quite unsure about Anderson as his deputy publicly as the primary election drew nearer, indicating that he “had not discouraged anyone from running” for the job, and indicated of Hand that he was an “intelligent, public-spirited young man with tremendous possibilities. I am for Glenn Anderson” (3/24/66, pp. 30).
Those words hardly amounted to a ringing endorsement of Anderson, and while Anderson survived the primary, both he and Brown lost the November election; Anderson to Bob Finch, and Brown to Ronald Reagan. Thus, it is clear that Brown’s relationship with Anderson was not as strong as one might have assumed.