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William Bradley

William Bradley

Posted: November 22, 2010 03:38 PM

The prodigal son has returned. Not that he ever really left for good. Or was all that prodigal, for that matter.

Jerry Brown's long and winding road has led him back to the door to the suite of offices that both he and his father occupied for two terms and which Brown, joining only the late Chief Justice Earl Warren in this regard, will take on for a third term as California's governor as he succeeds Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After election week, Governor-elect Brown and First Lady-to be (and more) Anne Gust Brown went off for a week on a well-earned vacation, so most serious public discussion of the transition held off for a bit. (It even held off last week with Brown back but conducting meetings in semi-stealth mode.) But it won't hold off much past Thanksgiving. More on the transition then.

Governor-elect Jerry Brown, introduced by Anne Gust Brown before a backdrop of students from Brown's charter schools in Oakland's regenerated Fox Theater, delivered his victory speech earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the dust is still settling on Brown's resounding landslide victory -- 54% to 41%, a margin of more than 1.2 million votes over billionaire Meg Whitman -- absolutely shattering the biggest spending non-presidential campaign in American history. In the process, Brown broke the record for the most votes ever received by a gubernatorial candidate, leading a Democratic sweep for the statewide ticket. Some, predictably, are pushing myths to account for the Brown-led California exception to the Republican wave that crashed, as I predicted here on the Huffington Post, against the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. And the story as told in the cut-back conventional media is on the under-cooked side.

Which is not surprising, since virtually all the state and national press early on anointed Whitman as an unstoppable high-tech juggernaut of a campaign run by the best consultants in the business. Up against poor old Jerry Brown and his ragtag little band. When in reality, it was Ali-Foreman '74 all along, with what I called Brown's Zen rope-a-dope approach unfolding as anticipated.

Jerry Brown ended his campaign and began his gubernatorial transition in the place where he regenerated as a political figure: Oakland. If you want to understand the stunning Brown comeback, you'll understand the significance of Oakland as its nexus.

His affection for the City Across the Bay From the City by the Bay was obvious when he wrapped up a whirlwind three-day, 14-speech statewide tour the Monday night before the election with a sunset rally on the Oakland waterfront next to the historic Jack London Square, revitalized by the California attorney general during his previous gig as Oakland's mayor. Rather than the normal November nippiness, it was nearly shirtsleeve weather by the water in globally warmed California.

The whole thing had a back-to-the-future air, befitting the imminent return of the tarnished Golden State's back-to-the-future governor. Few if any were unmindful of the state's problems, which are shared elsewhere in the U.S., yet it was a boisterous, happy crowd of 500 that greeted Brown, Senator Barbara Boxer, and most of the statewide Democratic ticket at the end of a day that began in San Diego.