warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Jerry Brown Elected Governor Of California Again

Alexandra Tilsley |
November 2, 2010 | 2:12 a.m. PDT

Senior News Editor

Jerry Brown rallies in Downtown L.A. on Monday (Photo by Laura Walsh)
Jerry Brown rallies in Downtown L.A. on Monday (Photo by Laura Walsh)
Jerry Brown will be the next governor of California, beating former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.

"I take as my challenge forging a common purpose," Brown said Tuesday night. "A common purpose based not just on compromise, but on a vision of what California can be."

Brown, who served two terms as governor beginning in 1975 and is currently attorney general, ran a relatively quiet campaign, preferring to stay out of the spotlight rather than risk saying something that could get him in trouble. Whitman, meanwhile, poured record amounts of money into her campaign, which was the most expensive ever for a non-presidential candidate. 

Early in the race, Whitman, who stole the spotlight early and stayed there, was polling ahead of Brown. But Brown caught up early in the fall, and soon built a solid lead over the Republican candidate, who was running on the platform that she was an outsider with the business know-how to fix Sacramento. 

Polls show that Brown had a significant edge with Latino voters, who Whitman tried to target but was never able to connect with. Her efforts were not helped, of course, when her former housekeeper came forward and alleged that Whitman had employed her knowing she was an illegal immigrant

Brown’s own campaign was not without scandal. Shortly after “maidgate,” Brown found himself knee-deep in a “whoregate” crisis. One of Jerry Brown’s associates, thinking he had hung up the phone after leaving a message for the L.A. Police Protective League, called Whitman a “whore” for agreeing to protect pensions for law enforcement officers in exchange for an endorsement. 

Though the race was full of controversy, the actual election was tame and predictable, unlike many across the country.

"To be a California Republican tonight is to know what it’s like to be dateless on prom night," said Bill Whalen, a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "We spend three hours watching a landslide across the country and then the Senate and gubernatorial races were called 30 seconds into the hour. I don’t think it could have been called any more quickly. There was no drama, no excitement."

In a year that was being touted the “Year of the Republican Woman,” and at a time when an anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat mood pervades much of the nation, Brown’s win seems to defy the trend. But California voters found Whitman unrelatable – particularly after her stilted performances in the first two debates – and she likely lost some moderate and undecided voters because of her stance on immigration.

Brown, for his part, has a lot to prove as he returns to the helm. Many of the newspapers who endorsed Brown began adding the caveat that neither candidate was a great choice – and some papers refused to endorse at all. There is a large contingent of voters in California who don’t understand why Brown ran again and who don’t know what, exactly, his stance is on anything, so success is not guaranteed. 

The biggest issue Brown will face is, of course, the state budget. Brown has said he will start the budget process earlier, and will also use a “zero-based budget,” which means the budget is redone completely every year, rather than just altered slightly from the previous year’s budget. 

As for the other issues, Brown has said he will push for a new Master Plan for California higher education, and he intends to work to pass the California DREAM Act, which would give undocumented students a path to citizenship. He also plans to stimulate clean energy jobs and has pledged to fight for a woman’s right to choose. 

Reach news editor Alexandra Tilsley here. Follow her on Twitter: @atilsley.
Sign up for Neon Tommy's weekly e-mail newsletter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.