Few outside of California know or care who Willie Brown is. But that may be about to change.
Brown spent around a quarter of a century as de facto royalty in California, first serving more than three decades as a member of the California Assembly (15 years as its speaker), and then eight years as mayor of San Francisco.
He also once carried out an open extramarital affair with a young prosecutor named Kamala Harris, currently a U.S. senator and leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Now, we're far beyond the point that a personal past like that disqualifies a candidate. Harris, after all, is vying to challenge a thrice-married man who once graced the cover of Playboy and publicized his infidelity on the cover of the New York Post. Candidates' personal lives no longer warrant deep investigation, unless they tell us something about their professional and political lives.
Unfortunately for Harris, the Willie Brown story is not strictly personal. It's also professional.
When Harris was barely 30, she began dating Brown, then in his 60s and speaker of the California Assembly. To be clear, an ambitious woman dating a powerful man is not alone any cause for concern. Strong women are attracted to success, and a 30-year-old assistant district attorney is hardly, say, a 21-year-old intern. But the story doesn't end there.