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. SteveR

    Ron Reagan, Jerry Brown, Arnold, Jerry again,,, hey cally do we see a trend here, you love the celebs as guv we get it!!!

    November 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff

    With all her money, NutMeg needs to buy a clue. California is too important to be run by this witch.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. egm11

    all you pot heads got what you deserve. brown and boxer, tweedle dumb and dumber. good luck with that bankrupt thing out there. dont go the the congress for a bailout, i wouldnt go knocking on arizonas doors either. what a bunch of buffoons you people are.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caral from SoCal

      Well, what I cannot quite wrap my mind around is this: The same electorate that saw fit to return Jerry Brown to the governor's chair, did NOT legalize pot. So, the pot-head thing is out, I suppose. I think some of us more conservative types might think we would have voted 'yes' on the legalize pot proposition, if we'd known Brown and Boxer were going to get back in. MIght have made the next few years easier to abide. (just kidding. really.)

      November 3, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. California Uber Alles

    Looks like Jello Biafra will have to write another song.

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

      I am governor Jerry Brown, my political career smiles and never goes down

      November 3, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Stand Up

    I am an independent, and Brown won me over because he talks straight and has integrity. During the debate, he was asked if he would like Obama to campaign with him, when every other dem was distancing himself. He said he would. They asked Whitman if she would campaign with Palin, and she side-stepped the question. He held is ground on the wh@re comment, cause let's be real, this is the parlance of a campaign. And he was willing to take down every add but the one that touts his position onthe issues, of Whitman would do the same. She declined. The guy does no squirm, does not waffle, and is exactly the type of dem with balls that we haven't seen from the current leadership.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. surf city SC

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

    Brian, wherever you are; stay there. I still can't believe after 8 years of neocons, the people of this country can be so fooled by the real 'elitists' that after only less than 2 years they could be so stupid & gullible. Stay under the 'red rock' you crawled out from under:

    November 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ms Thing

    Whitman lost because she bombarded us with negative ads for a solid the tune of $160M. (How fiscally conservative is that?) Jerry spent a small fraction as much on his campaign, which really connected. He was a great governor last time and he will be this time too.

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

      Remember meg spent her OWN $ while Moon beam spent the unions and teacher"s $

      November 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Terry

    More proof that the rest of the US would be better off if California became it's own demented third-world country. It's interesting California is supposedly overrun with "smart people" and yet they can't balance a budget and they tax individuals and business so much, the people paying taxes and their businesses are fleeing faster than the illegals can replace them. What a joke you guys continue to be! I just hate it that the rest of us continue to suffer for your stupidity.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Vietnam Vet

    Kalifornistan deserves what it will get. Don't expect us to bail them out of their self-imposed disaster. Any business that stays in that state is either on the government teat, or just stupid.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cmxsmitty

    Welcome back Jerry – your sanity has been missed.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bogey

    I remember "Moonbeam" driving that old plymouth and refusing to live in the luxurious governor's mansion. I have long vacated the state of California, but I really think this guy has what it takes to get California back on track. Time will tell.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Creel

      He really can't make it any worse.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Creel

    Is that 140 million tax deductible?

    November 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Riley

    Californina voters must be CRAZY!@!!

    November 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Elane

    California Uber Alles...

    November 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bailoutsos

    Where is Linda?

    November 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
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