November 3rd, 2010
03:32 PM ET

How Jerry Brown got back in the governor's saddle

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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 "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. Genevieve de Vries

    I want to know why Meg Whitman's illegal housekeeper, who publicly admistted she was illegal and had use a stolen SS#, was NOT deported. This is a travesty! What will our dear new governor do about this? This woman and this governor are making a mockery of our laws!

    November 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Metropl

      Thanks Mr. Drama. I think that travesty is a little over the top. It's irritating or thought provoking, but it's not a travesty. The halocaust was a travesty.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • kat

      How is "this governor" (assume you're referring to Jerry Brown and not Arnold) making a mockery of the laws? What do THEY have to do with the housekeeper. And to answer your question, the state has started deportation proceedings, but Gloria Alread is protecting the woman.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      It's only a travesty if you're a bigot.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • notta

      Definitely not a travesty. Much of a drama queen are we? Yeah it stinks but there's a lot worse going on and no one died as a result. And she likely didn't take the job from anyone, except maybe another illegal. Rich people still want to pay cheap labor :-/

      November 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      Hey, de vries – shouldn't Arnold be doing something about it? He's still the Gov. No, you're right – the attorney general should do something about it. Oh wait, that's a federal issue, regardless of what our neighbors to the right seem to think.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • gimli

      @Genevieve: Because California is not Arizona.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • smh

      The people of California deserve what they get. One would think they'd learn by now. Don't ask the rest of the country to feel sorry for you or bail you out. I'm sick of hearing about their woes.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • M W

      Yeah, it always makes me mad when people come to this county to work hard and feed their families. You tell 'em! Shame on them.

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

      You have the intelligence of a tea bag;

      "This is a travesty!" Just how is this a travesty? Explain.
      "This woman and this governor are making a mockery of our laws!"

      You must be referring to Arnold right? And "This woman."?????????????????????

      November 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dick Downey

      California deserves what it gets. Barbara Boxer, Nancy Palosie, and now Jerry Brown. The State will be in even worse financial shape than it is now. And it's the most broke State in the Nation.
      Thank God, for the common sense of the Midwest.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Romy

      Why don't you call up your republican governor Arnold and ask him why he's doing nothing about it.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • surfergirl

      OK all of you. According to Webster's dictionary, travesty means "to make a mockery of". Illegal means" not according to or authorized by law". I agree in part with Geneiveve. The fact that Meg Whitman has somehow become a villain in all this is beyond comprehension. If Meg had not fired the housekeeper once she found out her immigration status, she would have been in violation of the law. She has been ridiculed for doing what the law expects of anyone.

      As for the comments about the housekeeper working hard to feed her family, etc., the fact is that there are lawful ways to enter the US. I am a legal immigrant and now citizen. I filled out the required paperwork and followed the steps needed to be sure that I entered the US according to the laws and regulations of this country. This issue is no different than any other law. If someone robs a bank, violates traffic law, or even parks illegally, there are repercussons for their acgtions. There are few other civilized countries in the world that do not have much tougher immigration laws than the US. You enter illegally, you are deported. End of story.

      Also, I find it interesting that people that post comments to any articles featured on CNN or any other new site, are ridiculed for expressing their opinions. You don't have to agree with others, but at least respect the fact that not everyone agrees on an issue. Thats why most immigrants fought so hard to become citizens here – the right to freedom of speech without fear of persecution.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tracy W

      That's not a travesty. A travesty is the voters in CA re-electing this moron as governor again, and re-electing Boxer. When you guys are at the bottom of the barrel – don't come looking to the other states to save your sorry asses. You all get what you deserve by these liberal politicians!

      November 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • curleymoe

      California has been run by libs as long as I can remember, they are bankrupt. If Jerry can turn it around I'll drink his koolaide. Not gonna happen. California would go down the toilet just like the Soviet Union but for the fact that they have 49 other states proping them up.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Muhammed

      Death to America!

      November 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David

    I am inspired by Governor-Elect Brown and believe in the future of California. Let's all get involved, get excited, and get along.

    November 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Betty Whyte

      Get excited with a 72 year old man, no thanx!

      November 3, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      inspired – yeah, he can turn the rest of CA into Oakland!!

      November 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • flapjack

      Did you live during the time Brown was governor the first time.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill Hicks

    Note to Meg: Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!!!!!!

    November 3, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tracy W

      The joke will be on you when your state is in more financial turmoil than it already is. Meg will have the last laugh.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • seriouslytakemeseriously

      and if it isnt? well all laugh at you, Tracy the Economic Prophet

      December 14, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Evan

    Have a heart people, our votes inflicted some serious misery as the price for getting Jerry Brown back in the saddle. Meg's likely secluded in her estate plastered, sprawled out and crying hysterically, refusing to be comforted by her new housekeeper, mascara running... sorry, I got a little carried away.

    Think carefully, search your hearts. If YOU spent over $100 million dollars on a political campaign instead of putting that money toward your retirement nesteggs, or at least donating some of it to world hunger, wouldn't you all be totally bummed out about now, like Meg is likely going through? Meg has found out life's unfair, and California politics is a bust for her. We need to acknowledge her monetary sacrifice considering that the average Californian could have retired off her political budget, along with everyone else in their neighborhood.

    November 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lincoln

      I'll drink to that!

      November 3, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • RanHarley

      Elect a 72 year old to act like a 50 year old ...not going to happen. I admit you didn't have much to choose from, but you are going to pay for it. We need normal people with business sense to run our states and country...not lawyers with a twisted way of looking at things. Good luck....but I'm for term limits, 8 yrs. public service for any elected official...

      November 3, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just an Observer

      Consider that the $140 million or so that Meg Whitman spent on her campaign went towards paying for television air time, radio spots, banners, signs, billboards, etc. all of which helped to pay for the people that produced the ads, ran the ads on the air, manufactured the banners, signs, posted the bill boards up, etc. And all of those companies that employed these people increased their revenues, upon which the state will collect taxes (and of course taxes will be collected on the money these employed people earn and spend), and the cycle of the "ripple effect" goes on and on..... So perhaps the best thing that Meg Whitman did in her short run for office, was to inject the $140 million into the economy. If only every candidate could do there's an economic stimulus that might actually work!

      November 3, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian

    Brown is an idiot but so are the majority of Californians so the should all get along wonderfully.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA

      HA HA HA. stop being so miserable and just deal with it. Cali is the best, West coast for life.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrisi

      Very good point.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Gosh, what a thoughtful and fair-minded comment. You wouldn't happen to be a wing nut, would you?

      November 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      A tad bit jealous aren't we?

      It's ok, if I lived in the south I'd be jealous of Californian's also.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • notta

      Ok wing nut, lol.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • cmxsmitty

      Yeah what with 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines 90% of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the US low sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, Yosemite, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and 85% of all Venture Capital we're real idiots.

      Go back home and find your missing teeth.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karl

      The smart Californians have already moved to Texas. Just wait for the numbers come February, 2011.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      and you brian would fit right in – as you are one BIG idiot!

      November 3, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      Dear Brian – which carolina do you reside in?

      November 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • flapjack

      ah..excuse me. I am a Californian, and I can not stand Brown.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • m burner

      @ Brian: the majority of Calfornians are idiots? what are you, from texas? CLEAR FACT: CALIFORNIA IS THE GREATEST STATE IN THE UNION.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • nannimoe

      Hold on a minute, not everyone in CA voted for "Moonbeam" or Whitman. Even though there were others on the ballot for Gov. didnt have a chance in hell, some did vote that way. Now that there is a Dem Gov, Dem Lt Gov and Dem legislature, watch CA totally fall off the cliff and into the ocean.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Harry

    California has the worlds 8th largest economy. We are mostly self sufficient and could support ourselves if the rest of the United States dropped off the face of the planet. Gov. Elect Brown wasn't my first choice to be on the Democratic ticket, but he sure is a HECK of a lot better than Meg Whitman would have been. Her ethics are attrocious and I'm glad karma was served up on a silver platter to her.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • brooke

      i agree wholeheartedly... but this jerry brown does seem somehow more serious this time around. i was a child when he was governor before, but i lived in SF when he was mayor of oakland. he seemed to walk the walk, but i admit i don't know his policies in detail. all i know is love my state and my country and i am hoping for bright future for both!

      November 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      What would you all eat? You can't live off of WIne and Cheese forever...

      November 3, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Semper Fi don't hide

    We always hoped and thought it was cool that Linda Ronstate might be the 1st lady. Now he is just a crazy old man. Scary.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      A "crazy old man," eh? He was elected twice to the highest office in the state three times over a span of more than 30 years. That seems pretty impressive to me. What have you done with your life that's so special?

      November 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      yeah – scary old man. and you – are a one brain dead idiot!

      November 3, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • brooke

      hey bob, re: semper fi dude, he obviously joined the marines, so he volunteered to be brainwashed and not to question authority. i'm sure he's a very reasonable man. :p

      November 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GaryB

    People forget that the reason Brown was referred to Governor Moonbeam was because he suggested that California invest in the development of satellites that could be used for communication and global positioning. In other words, in the long term he was right and the Republicans who laughed at him turned out to be short-sighted.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mousie

      Exactly right!

      November 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • W.N. Sanabria

      Even more visionary was the fact that he wanted to use satellites to provide early warning and targeted response capability for wildfires. That would have cost peanuts compared to the hundreds of billions spent by Reagan and W on the mythical Star Wars missile defense, which has still not had a single success after 30 years. The problem is right wingers are not concerned with facts, just with labels.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • California Girl

      Precisely! Like most avantgarde thinkers, he was laughed at in his time, and now the ideas that were called "bizarre" are pretty commonplace.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • brooke

      you're kidding?!? the republicans mocked what they didn't understand? that doesn't sound like them! {sarcasm}

      November 3, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • SuperJC

      GaryB, Thanks for let us know what the "Governor Moonbeam" is.
      Thank you.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Erik

    Jerry Brown will be a great governor!!!

    November 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. thesaint

    whitman was trash. she blew $160M which could been used for something productive. she's a loser

    November 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian K.

    We're the idiots? We didn't just re-elect the morons that got us into this mess in the first place. Yes, our state is screwed up, but compared to the collective US, we're like a field of wild flowers. Also, you're just jealous that your governor doesn't have a cool nickname.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. George

    Pat Brown almost ran the state into bankrupcy!! It took Regan 5 years to undo the mess he made. Son Jerry tried to repete what his dad tried to do and will try it again!!

    November 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean C

      George. I can tell you received a fantastic education. By the way, repete is ACTUALLY spelled repeat. JUST thought you should know

      November 3, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chrisi

    Unbelieveable. ELDER STATESMAN? Age, a trust fund and union ties makes not an ELDER STATESMAN. I can't wait to go back in time 28 years ago: 13% (California) unemployment, at least four successful special elections to raise various taxes; he wanted the repeal of prop 13. I can't imagine how California thinks he was better than the alternative.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • W.N. Sanabria


      Picking Brown was easy; he was endorsed by his opponent. Meg ran a commercial telling us how good things were in CA when she moved her family here 30 years ago; how everything was possible, and how she was running to bring back those happy times and the CA dream for all of us. The problem is that the governor of CA duirng that golden era she wants to bring back was... Jerry Brown. Any questions?

      November 3, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • lrcastill

      haha sanabria is absolutely right on. megatron aired a commercial that unintentionally endorsed jerry. how dumb could she and army of overpaid consultants be LOL...whatta pea-brain!

      November 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • flapjack

      @Sanabria...Jerry Brown became governor 42 years ago, not 30. He started in 1968.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      It is because a lot of them Especially in the Big cities are brain dead from smoking too much weed Illegally!

      November 3, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • foodle

      Brown was elected governor in 1974 and 1978. 30 years ago, he was in his second term.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gretchen

    I voted for Governor Brown, and I'm glad that I did. He was clearly the best candidate out there, and it was very obvious. Now whitless can pack up and go home.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MartyT

    I lived under Jerry's rule in Ca. all of his eight years and it was mostly fine (Silicon Valley b loomed under his rule). He has a tough row to hoe since he (once again) has to deal with that idiotic uber leftist Ca. "Legislature".

    November 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
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