“If handled correctly, a one-term pledge could change the dynamics of the contest,” adds Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “Skelton makes some strong arguments, not least Brown’s age," he says. "Does California really want a two-term Brown turning 80 in office?”
Skelton’s column mentions other top candidates who considered the idea and then backed off – including Sen. John McCain and former President Ronald Reagan. The first was reported in the book “Game Change” by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, and the other, says Skelton, was related directly to him by the late Mike Deaver, Reagan’s one-time image guru.
Brown is currently being outspent by billionaire Whitman 100-to-1, and the pledge could shift some free media coverage his way, some suggest.
“If Brown pledges to serve only one term, the benefit for him will be a lot of press coverage,” says Jessica Levinson, political reform director of the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS). “He could try to portray himself as a selfless public servant and argue that California needs him to come in and clean house, but that he won’t stay past his welcome and won’t spend any of his time in office running for the next election.”