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Brown Vows To Unite Californians

Meet the 39th governor, same as the 34th governor.

Special Feature ELECTION RESULTS 2010

November 2010 Election Results

California Governor-elect Jerry Brown (R) with his wife Anne Gust-Brown after speaking to supporters as he celebrates his win during an election night party at Fox Theatre on November 2, 2010 in Oakland, California.
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Above: California Governor-elect Jerry Brown (R) with his wife Anne Gust-Brown after speaking to supporters as he celebrates his win during an election night party at Fox Theatre on November 2, 2010 in Oakland, California.

Beating back a billionaire Republican political novice, venerable Democrat Jerry Brown will reprise his role as California governor in an economic climate far less rosy than his original tenure 30 years ago.

Once the state’s youngest governor, Brown, now 72, will be the oldest person ever sworn in as California’s chief executive.

To reach that distinction, the incumbent attorney general had to overcome Meg Whitman’s personal war chest – the Republican former CEO of eBay spent more than $163 million in a losing cause, the most ever by a self-funded candidate in U.S. history.

In a rambling, sometimes rousing victory speech, Brown said he is focused on far more than just “the political thing.”

“I’m hoping that this breakdown (in Sacramento and Washington) leads to a breakthrough,” Brown told a cheering crowd of supporters. “I’m coming back to Sacramento 28 years later, full of creativity and ready to serve you, the people of California.”

Beaten yet unbowed, though surely poorer, Whitman told cheering supporters that, “We overcame great obstacles to get this far and I could not be prouder of the race we have run; I gave it my all, and so have you.”

Whitman said she called Governor-elect Brown and wished him well. She echoed her opponent in saying it’s time to put partisan politics aside and “come together as Californians.”

“Our problems are daunting and will not be solved with politics as usual,” Whitman said.

Whitman, whose wealth has been estimated at $1.3 billion, flooded her campaign with cash – perhaps as much as $200 million when the final bill is toted.

Her spending, labeled by some as “obscene,” astounded the political world and swamped the state’s previous self-funding record of $80 million by Republican Bill Simon, who lost to Democrat Gray Davis in 2002.

By comparison, Brown ran an austere race, relying on name recognition and support from a Democratic political base built over a lifetime (his father preceded him as governor).

Brown kept his ad-powder dry all summer. He preferred to wage an intense, post-Labor Day battle and counted on voters to suffer “Meg fatigue,” from endless ads going back to her battle in the Republican primary.

Non-partisan fact-finders and news organizations called many of Whitman’s ads labeling Brown a “tax-and-spend liberal” false and misleading. By early September, Brown had $35 million with which to hold his own with the billionaire through the campaign’s final months.

While Whitman pounded Brown’s political record, saying his stints as governor and Oakland mayor were disastrous, she was hurt by her all-but-nonexistent voting record and a late-breaking revelation: She had employed an undocumented housekeeper despite her tough-on-immigration stance.

By spending her own money, Whitman argued, she was not in debt to special interests, like the public employee unions who have supported her opponent.

But Brown countered: "As far as unions, I'm the only governor that ever vetoed the pay raises for all public employees," Brown said. "I did it once. I did it twice. I'll do it again if I have to."

And while the term "career politician" is a handicap in many campaigns this year, Brown embraced his four-decade resume: former governor, former mayor of Oakland and currently state attorney general.

Associated Press contributed to the information in this report.

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