Joe Cerrell, a legendary political consultant and consummate schmoozer whose unrelenting but principled style won respect from allies and opponents, died Friday of complications related to pneumonia at St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo. He was 75.
Cerrell’s list of clients and friendships read like a who’s who of politics from the 1950s forward — John F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Al Gore, Dianne Feinstein, Willie Brown, Jesse Unruh and both Pat Brown and his son, Gov.-elect Jerry Brown. Instrumental to the careers of numerous politicians, he counted their triumphs among his greatest pleasures and their setbacks among his greatest disappointments.
"Joe Cerrell was a great personal friend and one of the pioneering political consultants in California and the U.S.,” Gore said. “Throughout his life, he was also a great champion of progressive political causes. He advised presidents, candidates for many offices at the national, state and local level, and used his skills and knowledge to help average Americans through times of triumph and trouble.”
In a recent video tribute to Cerrell, Jerry Brown said Cerrell “was around before even the term political consultant was invented.” He added: “When I first thought of running for office for the junior college board of Los Angeles at the end of 1968, he was the first person I spoke with.” With Cerrell’s help, recalled Brown, he finished "first among 124 candidates" for the community college board. (more)