OAKLAND — On a March morning outside his brick campaign headquarters, Jerry Brown pulled up 30 minutes late in a state-issued Crown Victoria as reporters waited to talk to him about his gubernatorial run.
Before Brown faced the media, he checked in with a small, middle-aged woman who made sure he looked presentable.
That helpful woman was Anne Gust Brown, the candidate's partner of 20 years and wife of five, who does far more than make sure Brown's tie is on straight.
Gust has, in fact, emerged as one of Brown's closest political confidants in the most high-profile and expensive race in the country this year.
She's a valued member of the 72-year-old Democratic candidate's brain trust, consulting with Brown and campaign manager Steve Glazer on political strategy.
She also oversees the campaign's fundraising, helps manage the office staff, does data entry and makes coffee on occasion.
In Brown's day job as state attorney general, Gust works as an unpaid senior adviser, consulting on legal issues and tag-teaming with Brown to question attorneys.
It's a big change for a woman who spent much of her career in a high-powered business role, most noticeably as the chief administrative officer for clothing retailer Gap Inc. She began her political work in 2006, when she helped Brown win the attorney general's race.
If Brown defeats Republican rival Meg Whitman in November, his 52-year-old wife says she expects to be an unpaid adviser in the administration.
"I think what I can bring to the campaign is Jerry trusts me completely," Gust said in an interview in a tucked-away office in Brown's headquarters.
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