Joe Cerrell, a prominent player in Los Angeles and Democratic politics since before the JFK campaign, died today at age 75. "We are deeply saddened to announce that our company co-founder, mentor, political legend and friend Joe Cerrell passed away this morning in Camarillo following a brief bout with pneumonia,'' said Hal Dash, chairman and CEO of Cerrell Associates. "Joe was a larger-than-life figure in California politics and public affairs for the past half-century, beginning as a USC college Democrat and building a career in which he was an advisor to presidents, governors and political figures at all levels." Cerrell’s political career began at USC in the 1950s. He started the Trojan Democratic Club, caught the eye of Assembly candidate Jesse M. Unruh, and worked on Edmund G. “Pat” Brown's first campaign for governor in 1958. Cerrell became at 24 the youngest person to head the state Democratic Party. His firm says he went on to work with the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert H. Humphrey, Lloyd Bentsen, John Glenn and Al Gore. The Cerrell family holiday gathering scheduled on Saturday will go on, the firm says.
Reactions and obits:
- "Joe Cerrell helped to create modern political consulting." Ann N. Crigler, chair of the USC Department of Political Science. The City Maven
- "An icon of Southern California politics for decades." Sacramento Bee
- "With USC political science professor Larry Berg, Cerrell helped found the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC." Rick Orlov/Daily News
- "Joe Cerrell was a great personal friend and one of the pioneering political consultants in California and the U.S." Former vice president Al Gore. LAT
- Legendary CA political consultant Joe Cerrell -- who ran Jerry Brown's first-ever campaign -- has passed away. He will be greatly missed." Carla Marinucci of the SF Chronicle
- "California loses a treasure. Many of us lose a mentor and friend." Danielle Fairlee
- "Thoughts and prayers are with Joe Cerrell, his family and colleagues today." Scott Schmidt
- "He was a gentle giant who was one of the best political minds of his generation. He was a longtime friend of the Hahn family and I join with his family and friends in mourning his loss." City Council member Janice Hahn
- "Joe Cerrell was a friend and inspiration to me for more than 30 years, and I will miss him dearly." City Council member Paul Krekorian.
- "Joe gave politics a good name. He loved the game, and he was a master at it....His passing is a great loss to the nation, and to our community." Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky