"It occurred to me that these critics -- who have long recited our state's decline -- perhaps have nothing to say in the face of California's comeback -- except, 'Please, don't report it,' " said Brown from the Assembly's dais.
"Well, I'm going to report it, and what a comeback it is!"
More than six months later, that single quip is what Republican gubernatorial challenger Neel Kashkari seems to believe is his best -- and maybe only -- hope in a long-shot quest to topple the iconic Brown.
Hence the Web video posted late Wednesday night, showing the former investment banker and assistant U.S. Treasury secretary posing as an out-of-work, down-on-his-luck guy on the sultry summer streets of Fresno.
"I've run out of money and had to turn to the homeless shelter for food," says Kashkari to the camera at the beginning of a 10-minute video that blends scenes of the GOP candidate scrounging for work or a place to sleep with interviews of those who are really struggling to make ends meet and those helping them.
The gap between rich and poor is one of 2014's most talked-about issues, both in policy and political circles. And it's an issue mostly invoked by Democratic candidates. The assertion by Republican Kashkari that he cares about the problem more than the Democrat Brown has accounted for a lot of his media attention in the campaign, from the time he formally launched his effort to the contentious battle he won in June over a much more conservative gubernatorial hopeful, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks).
A study released late last year estimates some 8 million Californians live in poverty conditions -- conditions that are sadly the norm for one in five of the state's children.
In an exclusive KQED interview in April, the governor took issue with those who say he's not doing enough. Instead, Brown blamed the root causes of poverty on forces that extend far beyond California's borders.
"Gov. Brown is not talking about poverty," said the GOP candidate in his Thursday morning news conference at a Sacramento food bank. "And if he refuses to talk about the issues, and candidly I don't think the press is challenging him on it, then I'm going to do it."
And in a state where $3 million weekly TV ad buys are still the most effective way to wage a competitive race for governor, the GOP hopeful needs to find a way to turn his poverty platform into more than just a one-week walk on the wrong side of the tracks.