Democrats take California
Democrat Jerry Brown was elected to his third term as governor of California Tuesday, beating Republican candidate Meg Whitman.
âI take as my challenge forging a common purpose. A common purpose based not on compromise but on a vision of what California can be,â Brown said in his victory speech.
Brown, the current state attorney general and previous California governor from 1975 to 1983, led his campaign on a platform that promised new jobs in the green energy sector and focused on providing funding for California education.
âHe had a very effective get out to vote effort and organized traditional democratic constituents,â said Tom Hollihan, a political expert and professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, also pushed for creating California jobs, but through incentives for companies and small businesses to boost the job market. Pension reform was also at the top of her list of goals for the state.
âIt looks like in the data that more people said that we need to bring government experience to this table than business experience … even though the economy is a key factor,â said Ann Crigler, interim director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.
The months leading up to the election saw targeted campaigns from both sides, with Whitman spending a record $141.5 million of her personal money. In total, she spent $160 million on her campaign.
Brown spent $57 million on the campaign, funded primarily by his union backers.
âBrown did a lot more with more limited resources than Whitman, with her many, many millions of dollars,â Crigler said.
Controversy characterized the gubernatorial race in the closing months of the campaign season.
A former housekeeper of Whitmanâs came forward alleging that Whitman employed her for nine years as an illegal immigrant. Whitman said she did not know of the housekeeperâs status and said she had provided a false social security number.
A large share of the California constituency is made up of Latino voters, Hollihan said, which is why the controversy with Whitmanâs former housekeeper resonated so negatively in the end.
âShe had huge vulnerabilities,â Hollihan said. âShe was not a particularly likable personality, and likability really matters in politics.â
Brown also faced heat when a voice message emerged featuring someone in his inner circle calling Whitman a âwhore.â
âHe made small mistakes during the campaign but was usually able to respond to them by making light of them,â Hollihan said.
Brown, 72, was Californiaâs youngest governor when he was elected in 1972, and he is now the oldest governor ever elected in the state.
He visited USC on Oct. 22 during a Moving America Forward rally with Sen. Barbara Boxer and President Barack Obama.
âCalifornia has a place for all of us, not just some, not just the ones at the top,â Brown said at the rally., where he spoke about the political impact the state has. âWeâre the positive force of change for everybody.â