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Jerry Brown preparing for life without top aide

November 26, 2012 | 11:42 am


Outside of his wife, Anne, nobody has been a closer adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown over the last six years than Jim Humes. Now, the governor must prepare for political life without him.

Brown's appointment of Humes to the 1st District Court of Appeal reshuffles the administration's senior staff at a time when Brown is looking to turn the page on years of budget deficits and focus on more ambitious policy priorities for the state.

A lawyer who has served as Brown’s top legal and administrative aide since he became attorney general in 2007, Humes has functioned largely out of the public eye, tasked with helping bring focus to Brown’s administrations.

Brown, who has more than four decades of experience in state politics, is known for making his own decisions and is less dependent on staff than some of his predecessors. But for the last six years, Humes has helped run the day-to-day operations of the vast bureaucracies Brown was elected to oversee.

In the attorney general’s office, Humes served as Brown’s chief deputy. When Brown was elected governor, he took Humes with him and gave him a top job. In Brown’s administration, the role of chief of staff has been divided into two: Humes handles many of the administration’s legal issues, is heavily involved in corrections policy and serves as de facto cabinet secretary, interacting with agency secretaries on a regular basis. Nancy McFadden works largely on the state budget and legislation, which has dominated Brown's first two years in office. Both have the title executive secretary.

It is unclear how exactly the administration will proceed without Humes. Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said the governor is still deciding whether or not to replace him, saying “no final determination has been made.”

Humes was expected to be appointed to the bench by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but took his name out of consideration to help Brown's new administration. His judicial appointment must be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, a three-member panel that includes the chief justice of the state Supreme Court and the attorney general.


Gov. Jerry Brown appoints legal aide to appeals court

James Humes, Brown's executive secretary, described as affable and decisive


--Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: Jim Humes speaks with Gov. Jerry Brown in the Capitol in January 2011. Credit: Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee