Jerry Brown Gets Another Chance to Lead California

Monday, 03 Jan 2011 06:49 AM


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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown will be sworn in Monday as California's 39th governor, promising an era of austerity and a markedly different leadership style than that of outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Democrat and current state attorney general will become only the second person to serve three terms as California governor when he takes over from Schwarzenegger, a Republican who won office during the 2003 recall election. His tenure as the 34th governor, from 1975 to 1983, was before voter-imposed term limits, allowing Brown to seek the office again at age 72.

When he last held the job, Brown dated celebrities and earned the nickname "Governor Moonbeam" for what then seemed like far-out ideas.

He returns to lead a state very different from the one he last oversaw: Its finances are in a deep hole and its politics are riven with deep partisanship that has made compromise on major budget issues all but impossible.

Since his November election victory, Brown has promised a grim future of difficult choices and "shared sacrifice" from all sides. The state faces a $28 billion budget shortfall through June 2012, and multibillion-dollar shortfalls are projected for the foreseeable future.

That could mean asking voters to extend the temporary income, sales and vehicle taxes that were approved in 2009 and are scheduled to expire in July.

Brown campaigned on a promise not to raise taxes without voter approval, but voters already rejected an extension of those taxes during a special election in 2009. Brown will need some Republican support in the Legislature to put any tax measure before voters.

Brown has been working hard since the November election to gather all points of view and has been a frequent visitor to the state capital.

He has met with lawmakers from both parties and waded deep into policymaking. Both steps mark a sharp change in style from Schwarzenegger, who relied on charm and his larger-than-life personality to win deals behind closed deals with a small group of top lawmakers.

The incoming governor must present his first budget plan for the coming fiscal year just a week after his inauguration.

Brown becomes the second oldest person to hold the office until midway through his first term — behind Gov. Frank Merriam, who tackled budget deficits during the Great Depression and turned 74 during his final weeks in office in 1939.

During his earlier tenure, Brown was criticized for his continual pursuit of higher office that many said made him too distracted to lead effectively. He sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1976 and 1980, and lost his bid for U.S. Senate in 1982.

The former Jesuit seminarian also headed the state Democratic Party, practiced Zen Buddhism in Japan and worked with Mother Teresa in India. Brown tried again for the presidential nomination in 1992, then served eight years as mayor of Oakland.

He also has changed in another way since last sitting in the governor's office: Brown has been married for five years to former Gap Inc. general counsel Anne Gust Brown, who is expected to play a prominent role in his office.

She already has helped pick out a loft for the couple to live in while Brown works in the Capitol, across the street from where he will be sworn in to a third term.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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