November 3rd, 2010
03:32 PM ET

How Jerry Brown got back in the governor's saddle

Jerry Brown is ... the most interesting comeback politician ... in the world.

He is, at least, the most unconventional of the 2010 midterm election.  Brown, who is the state's attorney general, defied the odds on Tuesday and took back the governor's seat that he held from 1975 to 1983. 

"As you know, I've got the know-how and the experience," he told a cheering crowd in Oakland.

"Jerry Brown came across as elder statesman; there was nothing flashy about Jerry," L.A. Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez told CNN.com. "He kept saying, 'I'm old enough. I'm ready to do this.' The Jerry Brown of the 1970s would not have been elected today. We had a movie star [in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger], now we want someone serious, we want a grandpa."

The 72-year-old's quirky, man-of-the-people approach once earned him the nickname "Governor Moonbeam." This time around, Brown constantly reminded voters that he is the son of Pat Brown, considered one of the greatest leaders the state has ever had. 

But that doesn't preclude Brown' s campaign from having a few laughs. Take a look at this Dos Equis-inspired campaign ad , sponsored by the California Democratic Party, that began airing just days before the election.

A voice similar to the one in the beer commercials shows old footage of Brown: "He tended to the poor with Mother Teresa/He marched in the fields with Cesar Chavez/He served two terms as governor - just for practice. He's Jerry Brown. And there are some things you might not know about him."

One message that everyone definitely knows Wednesday is that money cannot guarantee an election win. Brown's  opponent, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, shattered records by spending $140 million of her own money on her campaign. She bought an entire TV channel for the weekend at the GOP state convention's host hotel in March, according to the L.A. Times.

Rodriguez said it was unlikely that Whitman's big spending did her in. 

"It was really the business with the housekeeper that hurt her," the columnist said, referring to a Mexican maid who worked for Whitman. The maid was in the U.S. illegally, which Whitman said she didn't know. The maid tearfully told reporters that Whitman had fired her when the housekeeper revealed her immigration status.

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Filed under: California • Jerry Brown • Meg Whitman • Politics
soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. bubba

    brown.......an ultra liberal is governor again. that being the case, california is DOOMED!!!!! he does not have the stuff it takes to rescue the economy, the state, and the population of that state. and i predict he will have his nose so far up obamas butt........begging for $$$$$.........that it will be pathetic.

    maybe mother nature will step in..........and california will slide into the pacific. i wonder.................................

    November 3, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. DK Fan

    Can't help but be reminded of the dead Kennedy's classic "California Uber Alles" – Jello Biafra really blasted Jerry Brown in that classic punk track. Check it out if you get a chance. I think the song came out in 1980...not too sure though.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Rob

    CA claims to be the 7th or 8th largest economy, but yet they cannot balance a State budget & the State is continually broke – any rational, logical person would understand that means the State Gov doesn't know how to handle money. They can raise taxes to 100% but unless they learn fiscal responsiblity, they'll still spend every penny of it.

    But the whackjobs in the state continue to elect the VERY same types of people who are sinking CA into the ocean.

    Good job CA – now the whole state can become one big Oakland!!

    November 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jeana

    Amazing how many idiots are commenting here that aren't even in California and aren't even old enough to know Brown or the things he's done. I voted for him in the 80s and glad to see he's back again now. Sure will beat that lame duck idiot that's been in office the last 7 yrs. SHEESH....now that was an act of Republican stupidity that has left it's mark on the panties of California. Good luck to Brown in getting us back on track!

    November 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • DJH

      Yeah, because CA's problem have happended over the last 7 years and it's all Arnies fault instead of your idiotic legislature. Brilliant assessment, let me guess Cal?

      November 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • YouPoorPeople

      Hey Jeana... been there & old enough. Do you not see that it is the idiotic behavior of people like Governor Moonbeam and the fools like you who vote for them that have made California the laughingstock of the rest of the country/world.

      as for Brown's "getting us back on track"... sadly that track leads directly to disaster. Fools!

      November 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lingam

      Yep. Now instead of a mark on the panties we will have a big Brown stain!

      November 3, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. HumbledDad

    Great, so while Congress reboots, in California it's business as usual. And we even passed a proposition that makes it easier for the Dem legislature to pass bogus state budgets. We, the people of California, are a collective ostrich which our head in the sand.
    Good luck to us all.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. DJH

    Hey CA, stupid in – stupid out. You keep voting for the same people and you keep getting the same results! Good work

    November 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Pay Attention

    Sorry, CNN, this is not his "second stint". This will be his THIRD non-consecutive term. Don't you think you have an obligation to fully research and fact-check your reports?

    November 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Samantha

    As I move my business to Arizona I can only laugh at the poor saps who voted for Brown. Good luck to you Californians!!! Suckers!!!

    November 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. jr

    I'm a native of California and I'm embarrassed that Jerry Brown was voted in as governor again. I remember when he was governor before and he was awful. He didn't spend money because he was supported by all the unions which he will not be willing to negotiate cuts in benefits and pensions that are driving our state bankrupt. California has over 12% unemployment and we not me) vote Brown in who doesn't have a clue how to create jobs. Nevada has over 13% unemployment and they vote Harry Reid back in. He is responsible for what's happened in Congress along with Pelosi for the last 4 years. Barney Frank was voted back in when he was partially responsible for the Fanny Mae financial problems. What does it take to vote these people out, run the country like a business, and bring us back to prosperity?

    November 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. YouPoorPeople

    California... FAIL!

    November 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Junkman

    Meg should have had the good sense to pay off the maid with a non-disclosure and be done with it. This would have been much cheaper than the millions she spent. I am always amazed when politicians don't handle these issues quietly. Bill Clinton could have settled the Paula Jones suit and never had a problem. I'll bet that maid would have taken a $100K annuity which ends if she discloses. Meg could have called it a gift to a woman in an unfortunate situation. I am glad Meg didn't get elected as I think Brown will do a better job.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ang

    Let's just move on people, deal with it...want some lemonade??

    November 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Cindy

    I am proud to have voted one more time for Jerry Brown. He was an excellent Gov. and backed the then visionary programs that the whole country now depends on. His interest in our State has lasted his lifetime. He has worked as a public servant his entire career. He lives and breathes, California.
    I will hellp California to stay on course for the future of green energy along with Gov. Brown at the helm. Exciting to know that he's back, and ready to work for US!!
    All you haters stay home. Twiddle your thumbs and watch your Country slide further backwards or, get some b*lls and work for the future of America.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Freedom1776

    Watch as this "elder statesman" (getting elected repeatedly doesn't make someone wise) helps, and presides over, the further destruction of California. California, once the destination for those seeking to stake their claim in the world through hard work and innovation, is now the epitome of the policies that destroy American dreams.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. LiberalNN

    Wow voting Brown in yet AGAIN. California is soooooooooooo progressive.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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