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The Politics of California's First Dog

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, March 28, 2011

If you're on Twitter, check out @SutterBrown.  You'll see cute, amusing posts like "I wasn't the only Brown to head up to the 4th floor this week to sniff around for reasonable Republicans."  Clearly, Sutter's paws didn't author those Tweets.  But whose did?  First Lady Anne Gust Brown had a hunch when asked last month:

Gust Brown: "Some say it's Steve Glazer who's the Twitter handle. That's our guess. But you know, he's not 'fessing up."

Glazer is Brown's political advisor.  On his Twitter feed, he posts photos of Sutter, like one with sunglasses, a "let us vote" sign and the caption: "state budget reinforcements."  Is he the man behind the curtain?

Glazer: "The Twitter account is an unauthorized account.  It's not the governor's dog's Twitter feed, @SutterBrown.  But whoever it is has a great sense of humor and we enjoy the interchange."

But Sutter has served a political purpose too.  When the California Republican Party challenged Brown to debate anti-tax activist Grover Norquist over the state budget, the governor's office offered up Sutter instead.

Nehring: "I think he's using his dog as a deflection device."

Ron Nehring just finished his term as chair of the state GOP.  He says the governor's office uses Sutter to reframe the story when it's feeling boxed in.

Nehring: "At some point, I suppose, the dog jokes and the dog gag really needs to come to a close, and focus on the meaningful issues of reforming state government."

But Brown advisor Steve Glazer says the seven-year-old Welsh Corgi just helps the office have a little fun.

Glazer: "I think it lightens the mood up, gives people a greater sense of humanity, pulls them out of their partisanship at moments, and I think that's a healthy thing."

By the way, we Tweeted @SutterBrown for comment, and here's our response: "I'm not a prop - I'm the real deal. Dogs have a way of humanizing people, don't you agree?" 
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