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. nick

    Re-electing Brown is like marrying your ex-wife. Not the best idea.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Raif

    one out of every eight Americans is a Californian... that in itself should say enough to you and all of your mid-west ideals.
    we are the center that you all gravitate around. you pretend to hate, but how can you hate something that influences you like it does? California is not just a name California is an Idea and a way of PROGRESSIVE life. we will always move forward, and we wont let the hate that seems to come from so many bring us down. We will always be one step ahead of you and you will always follow us, no mater what you say. so when you finally make it out here just like all your friends have, then you can shut the hell up and be a leader for once.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      Hey Einstein, the state is BROKE and business are leaving in droves. What the hell are you talking about.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Huntressmoon

      From a fellow Californian...Lol wut?

      Did you even look at the cool election breakdown map provided by CNN? California's "Progressive" take on life is limited mainly to the coastal areas and large metro areas. Now we Libertarians share a lot of the same views on social issues as the stereotypical "liberal" from the Bay and LA, BUT we also realize that too much involvement by the state into our own lives, even if it is "for our own good" e.g. Welfare, food and beverage taxes, etc., is outright crippling our state. The land of innovation and positive change is not going to remain if they are taxed into oblivion to serve the needs of state programs that could perhaps be better served by charities and community outreach.

      November 3, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • 5th Gen Californian

      Hey Raif still smoking after Prop 19 failed to pass. Good to know that our agricultural business is still going strong!

      November 3, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • 5th Gen Californian

      Nicely said Huntressmoon. Nicely said!

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

      Yes – very progressive if you prefer a downward trend. My husband and I moved our business and the majority of its 100+ employees to a neighboring state where the cost of living is cheaper, the air is cleaner, and where because of the more positive business and tax environment, we are able to pay our employees more than we were in CA. While most of them could not dream of leaving the state they loved, they have come to realize just how screwed up things are there. There are many things I loved about CA, but unless the state is able to control its spending and reduce its debt and taxes, more business owners I know are considering making the same move we did.

      November 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • PoliGu

      You are indeed correct that California is one step ahead of the US. Unfortunately, the path we are both on is ruin and I hope when you take that last step off the cliff that the US stops and learns from the example.

      November 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lingam

    Six generations of my family are or have been Californians. We helped build this state into the California dream. It pains me, but things have reached such a low point here that I am seriously considering moving to another state. It's bad enough that California is now rated 48th in terms of business climate, is just about (if not already) bankrupt due to irresponsible policies, and the place is overrun with illegal immigrants and others who don't respect our traditions (yes, we actually do have them!), but if Brown is as bad a governor this time around as he was last time, it will be the last straw. The California dream is turning into a nightmare.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB in LA

      I am right there with you. My husband and I came to the difficult decision earlier this year to plan our relocation to another state. Yes, California has a huge percentage of the population, yes it grows lots of food, etc. Wake up – Silicon Valley is not the top of the cutting edge any more, that moved back east years ago. Hundreds of companies a year are leaving, and have been for the last several years. There are no easy fixes, and there were no good choices for leadership in this election. Boxer is an idiot, and I have no faith that Brown won't start pushing new taxes as soon as he's sworn in. I didn't like him the first time, and given the current short fuse of California patience if he's not careful he will get the same treatment as Gray Davis. Remember him? That's the one we IMPEACHED...

      November 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JOHN

    Hope he does not screw up California again.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Huntressmoon

      Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...

      November 3, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mikey

    The question is will he stand up to the public sector unions, the one's he helped create. I'd be surprised since they funded his campaign. But at his age you can only hope he doesn't care.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kefer

    Lot of comments on here about Meg spending $140 million on her own campaign. Do you folks have a clue how much the public unions stuffed into Jerry Brown's campaign? Do you know why we are in such deep financial trouble in CA right now, pumping $3 billion a year into these mobsters, er I mean public employee pension funds?

    And Jerry says he's gonna fix it – after they just got him elected. Wake up folks! Ca just made a really, really bad decision.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TTommy

    California and Jerry Brown are a perfect fit for each other. The state is hopelessly mired in debt. They are oblivious to their own financial peril. And they have just elected a liberal moonbat with no comprehension or inclination on cutting taxes and spending. A match made in heaven.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Translation

    I guess Smeg Whitman can look at buying a governorship in some other state...or country.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Laura

    Jerry Brown was CA's first major environmental voice, supported and built the innovative mass-transit system that has built a thriving northern CA, and made sure the CA public school system was one of the best in the world...leading to the prosperity we experienced for the past two decades. I think its about time we do a little more of that instead of giving billionaires tax cuts, so that CA remains the awesome state that it is.Give Moonbean some credit. I left California for college in Oregon because of the mess it has has since Schwarzenegger was elected when I was 13, and I could not be more excited the the innovated ideals that Brown has for my state of California. This is the first time in a very long time I am actually proud of being a Californian.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      California's school system is one of the worst in the country. The air is unbreathable, are you on drugs?

      November 3, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Mikey, like I said, Jerry Brown made a system, that others destroyed and made it what is it today. I left California to receive a college education from a private system because the public system has plummeted. Others do not hold education to the priority that Brown does. Education creates the foundation for our future, and our foundation will finally be solid again.

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

      "Innovated ideals" Oregon's education is just as bad as some parts of CA...

      Unless you majored in history and actually looked HARD into Brown's governorship, you really have no idea what you're talking about. Sure some of his ideas were decent, but not if they turned a $6B surplus into a $1B deficit. and left the state stagnant for the past 20 years....

      Oh, and Antioch CA was promised BART, funded partly through Brown's administration would arrive by 1986. They're still waiting...

      November 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • 5th Gen Californian

      I know you are too young to remember the State pre-Jerry, but it was better. Please look at the schools since he left office in 1983. It has been downhill and it is all on Jerry Brown. Maybe he knows that this is his legacy and he wants to correct it, but we know that is not the case. He was one of the first to speak about the environment, but he crippled this state with his lack of leadership on Prop 13. That gutted the state budget and the schools have never recovered. I'm sure you studied history in college, please study this time in California's history and you might be surprised at what you find.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lingam

      Brown didn't create the fine education system that we used to have here in California. It had already existed for at least a decade before he took office. Now it's turning to crap though.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    Jerry Brown is a clown. No I did not vote for "Governor Moonbeam" As far as Whitman's maid, she should be prosecuted, serve time in jail and deported. Gloria Alred should be disbarred for having her client admit she is a criminal and commited criminal acts. Meg did the right thing in firing her. California is in BIG trouble with the Demorats running the state. God save the state of California

    November 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      ahhhhhhhhhhhh shaddup!

      November 3, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TripleA

    Whitman said she wanted to help the voters of California have a real voice in government by becoming governor, when the record shows she has not voted in almost 30 years. Whitman said she would bring back jobs to California, when her record shows all she has done is lay employees off. Whitman said she cared about people, when the record shows she will throw someone under a political bus to protect her ambitions, just ask her (former) housekeeper. Whitman said she wanted to penalize employers who hired illegal immigrants, when her record shows she hired them. Money can buy a lot of things, but credibility is not one of them. Californians took a long look at Whitman, and knew a liar when they saw one. No thanks; we will take a politician instead.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Carl

    I wish the author of the article spent 5 minutes doing some research, but I guess CNN doesn't do that anymore. He wasn't called Gov. Moonbeam because he was quirky (or a hippie as some think). It was because he wanted California to purchase an emergency communications satellite and establish a space academy in CA. I'd say Pres. Reagan wanting the Star Wars laser defense system to be more far fetched than what Brown proposed.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Huntressmoon

    People make a big deal out of Meg Whitman using her own money, but I'm annoyed that no one looks at the millions pumped into Brown's election effort by the unions. As a member of a CA teacher's union, I know that a lot of my hard earned $ went unwillingly into getting this guy elected- not only for the campaign flyers and calling drive from my union to me and fellow memebers, but he even graced the cover of a recent edition of NEA Today. Ridiculous.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • 5th Gen Californian

      The Dems spent more than Meg did when you take in to account the unions and special interest groups. It didn't come from one pocket. Does that make a difference?

      November 3, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Huntressmoon

      5th Gen:

      I'm assuming you are agreeing with me? One person spending their own money they earned v. unions taking money by the millions from their members without their member's permission, right?

      November 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • 5th Gen Californian

      Correct. The Dems have their head in the sand on the election spending. I never thought I would even think of leaving this great state of ours. I just don't see how Jerry will do anything to get us out of this mess.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bill

    This is how the Midterms will be Remembered 1,000 years from now:

    November 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. andrew K

    I personally think Meg is a highly intelligent person BUT I can't stand the raping that eBay has done to it's customers with all kinds of fees including from PayPal which eBay also owns. I can just imagine someone like her running the show she will probably increase taxes on low and middle class folks and cut taxes for wealthy folks like her and her friends. Just like eBay... regular folks pay ridiculous fees trying to sell trikets while eBay millionaires like herreap the benefits.

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

      wow... you sound like you think that a free eBay/Paypay is a right. Turns out it is a BUSINESS!!!!! They are in business to MAKE MONEY!!!!! and it turns out, no one is holding a gun to their customer's heads. Don't want to pay the fee? Don't use eBay/PayPal. Simple. that is to say, it should be simple to understand. I am guessing you will struggle with this for a long while.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
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