November 3rd, 2010
03:32 PM ET

How Jerry Brown got back in the governor's saddle

[cnn-video url=""%5D

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. US Citizen


    November 3, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jorge

    Crap then crap now

    November 3, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. A Grown Up

    Congratulations to Governor Brown and Senator Boxer. I hope that they both succeed. I also wish success for Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Harry Reid, Lisa Murkowski, Nancy Pelosi and all the governors, senators and representatives who will be taking on a tough job in tough times. I am an American who wants to see her neighbors doing well and that can only happen under leaders who are willing to find common ground. I hope and pray that the politicians find a way to work together and put the needs of the nation above the needs of special interests. But we all need to pull together as Americans and stop taking potshots at each other and calling each other names. Be a part of the solution.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Linda Ronstadt is rolling over in her grave.....oh wait, she's not dead yet, is she? "I think it's gonna hurt me, for a long, long time."......:You're no good, You're no good, You're no good, , Jerry, You're no good. But hey, it's a MAD MAD LOVE.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dick

    You vote dope out and voted another dope in. You're going DOWN fools!

    November 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scott

    I just had a revelation of sorts...

    If we all point at each other and call each other "Idiot", "Moron", "Wingnut", "Ignorant", "Uneducated", and an assortment of other terms used to declare that one is less intelligent, then it's pretty clear that there's a deeply rooted lack of understanding in the culture of the United States.

    I don't think we'll ever come to terms with how to govern ourselves until we can get back to the basics of decency.

    Remember the Golden Rule?

    How many of you out there that are calling Brown an Idiot have ever had a conversation with him? I think there may be a few of you out there that are punching above your weight...

    November 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      Best post I've read so far.

      I voted Brown because in my opinion, he's the lesser of the two evils. Meg took over $100 million salary while simultaneously laying off hundreds at eBay. She hired a woman she knew was illegal, and fired her when it became incovenient. She never voted, but decides to run for Govenor? I'm sorry, but I'll take an innovative thinker like Brown any day. Call me crazy (which apparently that's all anyone knows how to do on these posts if they don't have anything thought-provoking to say), but I want someone who has a record of working tirelessly for the people of California, than a woman who woke up one morning and decided "I think I can do it". Brown nor Whitman would have been my first choice, but when it comes down to it, you actually need to know a little bit about government and politics to get anything done in government and politics.

      November 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Freedom1776

    Someone isn't wise just because he was elected repeatedly. Brown will help speed, and preside over, California's further demise. California, once the destination for those seeking to make their fortune in the world through hard work and vision, is now the epitome of the failed policies that kill business, initiative, and wealth through hard work. Well, at least illegal aliens enjoy free college tuition in-state that out-of-state U.S. citizens can't get (again, does that make sense)?

    November 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tothestarz

    Call him "Gov. Moonbeam" if you want... but Virgin Galactic just opened Spaceport America in California, so the state is finally catching up with his vision. Go Moonbeam!

    November 3, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    I wonder if Linda Ronstadt will be back? As I recall she was the highlight of his last term

    November 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. another 4 year ride

    Well, Brown is governor. He campaigned and won. Now we must live with that and work together. The two candidates were both not exciting. Brown's record of the past in every position he has had in government was really not brought to life. Meg's was, but not his. I guess with the passing of prop 25. Brown will do away with prop 13. To bad for property owners. I sure hope he does not take funds from transportation like he did his last time around, which caused some of the mess. Or as mayor of Oakland and the whole school thing about the schools being so bad the state stepped in. Oh yeah, Clean energy jobs. Really? It will be interesting to see how many jobs leave vs. clean energy. And who will get them? But hey, this will be one 4 year ride as a Californian I wont forget. And neither will history. Time to hide my saving here comes the tax man. But as a voter, he won now we must see what he will do. I hope it is in the best interest for Californians vs his own agenda he might feel is right for California. If he tries his own agenda, It might be like an election the federal government just had. Only time will tell. I have hope for now, only time will tell.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Munki

    Well, with the way that the California elections as a whole turned out. my family and I will likely move; at least to a state that is a bit more "in the middle" instead of being tainted by liberal extremeism. This amazing state is drowning in debt, and the voters tend not to really care about trying to find the right way out of it. Schools are deteriorating, there's an actual "WAR" on the border (if you don't agree; try walking along it at any time. And yes; Texas has that problem also), and the people again voted in a corrupt career politician. Anyone have work for a Veteran and a systems engineer?

    November 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. VinceRN

    Governor Moonbeam is back. I visit California two or three times a year, while he's governor I'll be changing my ring-tone to California Uber Alles by the Dead Kennedys. I bet downloads of that have increased today.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. IndypendentJones


    November 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ron D-

    Born and raised in California, Jerry Brown was my favorite Governor and it's great to see him back.

    Not only was he a visionary, realizing the huge savings and effectiveness that would accrue from adopting satellite communications to span the state in emergencies (and for which his opponents derisively nick-named him "Moonbeam" – a moniker they came to rue) he was a frugal, cost conscious Politician.

    The state had a huge Governor's mansion that Jerry refused to occupy, suggesting there was no justification for it and asking the legislature to sell it and use the money to help the state.

    The state had a big limousine with a dedicated driver for the Governor to carry him the long distance between his office and home. Jerry instead drove his old Plymouth from a nearby apartment to the office, saving the state and helping the environment.

    Those are just a few of the many, many personal choices he made as the role model for Californians and Americans in general.

    But career politicians cannot stand for that stuff. They like their comforts. So they ridiculed Governor "Moonbeam".

    Welcome back, Mr. Brown.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeri

    I haven't watched the video linked above but when I saw the picture of Jerry Brown, my eye was drawn to the woman behind him in a black dress with what appears to be white bra straps showing. All I could think of was, "she's in the media target and she couldn't wear a black bra to match her dress?" It was one of those Mom-in-your-ear moments and I wanted to take her aside and hand her a strapless bra! I know it's petty but she is such a pretty woman and my eye goes right to those white straps rather than focusing on how lovely she looks. And as a native Californian, anyone who can help California find a balance to make life better for folks there has my support. But walk the walk and then we will see what happens!

    November 3, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
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