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. VinceRN

    Strikes me as odd that they elected Governor Moonbeam, but voted down the pot thing. Seems like Jerry Brown and Marijuana have almost exact same demographic. Odd place California.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. donna

    Brown in the Ashes never managed to bowl out twice. And the one time he reached 100 was after Adam Gilchrist had shredded England with the second fastest Test century ever recorded in terms of balls, and set them 557 to win: to reach 350 then was a hollow triumph.

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

    As soon as is practical I'm moving to a blue county in a blue state. I'm tired of the bigotry, ancestor worship, hatred of the poor, military worship, and war mongering.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steven Brown

    The $140 million Whitman spent may seem to her a total loss, but money spent stimulates the economy.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Annemarie

    California Uber Alles...

    November 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Z

    The only reason Brown's surplus became a deficit was Prop 13, which he opposed and veto, but the state legislature overrode him. Prop 13 was the proposition that cut property tax, and he was forced to spend that surplus into a deficit BECAUSE of the requirements of this new law. You conservatives are dumb@$$e$.

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

      ... however, Prop 13 actually resulted in a huge increase in tax revenues due to the provision that any property that was sold was reassessed at the actual sales price. Previously all properties were assessed at a fraction of the actual market value. The real problem is that the state government has spent all of the increased revenues and more, on things that have added nothing to the quality of life in the state and in many cases have detracted from it.

      November 3, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lingam

      Oh yes, people of all walks of life are 'dumb@$$e$'. You seem to be proof of that.

      November 3, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. robin

    great one california jerry brown also tried to put that tradior Jane Fonda in politics, wanted her to lead the states arts counsil even the liberal california legistlator said no way gov. moonbeam!!!! as linda ronstant would say " dont it make by brown eyes blue lol

    November 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    California is in danger of further collapse. Assembly and Senate are 2/3s Dems. Now we have no Rep govenor to at least veto the worst bills plus we have removed the 2/3 majority to pass a budget. This will be the Obama experiment on the state level. God help us.

    November 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. otismccarroll

    California, Uber Alles.

    November 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mousie

    Wow, Raif way to go.

    California has it all, people, geography, resources, brains, know how, beauty, starkness. It's the best (and sometimes the worst) and everything in between. When it is bad, it is very very bad. Almost always, it is good, and NOTHING else compares to it.

    Yup, I'm a California native and proud of it.

    Why do people think it's an ok idea to BUY an office? $140 million? That is obscene. And has no one looked at how eBay is run? Of all the companies I deal with every day, they are to worst. If the state would have followed the eBay model, you would have no contact with anyone except through email. However bad you think it is right now, it would have been way worse.

    November 3, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jschool

    Don't know if this has already posted, but Brown was given the name "Moonbeam" because he was a little ahead of his time. In 1979, Mike Royko of the Chicago Sun-Times used that nickname, partly because Brown wanted a state space academy and a satellite that would be launched into orbit for emergency communications. A similar proposal was later adopted. I look forward to more prescient proposals from Gov. Brown.

    November 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. phil

    At least Arnold dropped CA's lawsuit vs. ENRON before grampa knocked him in the dirt.

    November 3, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ody

    as long as i can live by the ocean and in a blue state, i'm just fine, no matter who's gov.

    November 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. WhiteKong78

    I'd like to see California become great again, so I can move there one day. It scares me that a state with such high taxes is in financial trouble. Other than that it's a beautiful piece of property with friendly and beautiful people.

    November 4, 2010 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ali

    I don't understand why you're all hating on CA. If you don't live here, shut up. You're opinion on who we've voted into office doesn't matter when it comes to our Govenor. We on The other hand have a right to complain that a lot of you elected liars who are going to ruin our country even more while giving as much money to big businesses as they can.

    Only time will tell if Brown will help or hurt CA. I voted for him, and i'm glad that he won. Your opinions only show your lack of intelligence. Leave CA alone. You don't live here, it's not your problem.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      It does become everyone's problem when they are using to federal money to aid the California state government. It also becomes everyone's problem when congress passes bills that include federally funded earmarks that benefit CA that are paid by American tax payers reside in states other than CA. Therefore, everyone has a vested interest in what's going on in California and other states across the nation.

      November 4, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      It does become everyone's problem federal money is used to aid the state of CA. It also becomes everyone's problem when congress passes bills that include federally funded earmarks that benefit CA that are paid by American tax payers that reside in states across the country. Therefore, everyone has a vested interest in what's going on in California and every other state.

      November 4, 2010 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • termlimits

      Moon beam Brown back again! Not one (RINO, "I'll be back" doesn't count) personnel change in the Senate, House or Sacramento made it. The voters have spoken and apparently they like the HIGH unemployment, LOW home values and HIGH oppressive taxes they have now! But please do the taxpayers in the rest of the country a favor and DON'T ask for the bailout when the final collapse happens and you don't even get an IOU from Moon Beam. Well that sums up the election results in the Mexican providence of California.

      November 4, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • seriouslytakemeseriously

      Jon & Termlimits, you act like California isn't the state with the most taxpayers, the state with the largest economy or the state that contributes the most to the country as a whole. What about all those states that take plenty of federal money while contributing virtually nothing *cough most of them cough*?

      December 14, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
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