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jerrybrownprisons.jpgGov. Jerry Brown's high public approval rating and relatively safe re-election prospects have allowed the Democratic governor to run the barest of races, with no pressure to pay for advertising, to put on public events, or to otherwise take on the grind of a traditional campaign.

But the dearth of competition is also affording Brown another luxury -- not pinning himself down on issues typically aired in an election year.

The third-term governor has refused to complete a survey of gubernatorial candidates filled out by every other candidate in the race except one. Brown's campaign told The Bee -- which created the survey for its voter guide -- that he would explain his position on various issues, but not fill out multiple choice questions.

So Brown will not mark a box saying whether high-speed rail, which he supports, is very important or only somewhat important to him. Nor will he say if the state needs to spend more money on reservoirs, dams and other water storage facilities, or if California's current level of taxation is more or less than it should be.

"Some subjects require more explanation (than) checking boxes," a spokesman, Dan Newman, said, calling the exercise "simplistic and reductive."

Thirteen other candidates for governor, including Brown's main Republican opponents, submitted the form. Besides Brown, only Akinyemi O. Agbede, a little-known Democrat, have failed to do so.

Republican Tim Donnelly, whose campaign filled in all but one question about social services, criticized Brown in a prepared statement for refusing to "answer questions on the issues for the people who elected him," while Republican Neel Kashkari's campaign said Kashkari has "demonstrated his commitment to transparency."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol on Sept. 9, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua



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