Steve Poizner

Jerry Brown for governor

Jerry Brown for governor

Forty years have passed since Californians first elected as their governor a very young and quirkily charismatic Jerry Brown. Back then, voters made a conscious break from the past, choosing a 36-year-old Democrat with floppy collars and a philosophical bent to succeed two-term Republican governor and former Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan. At the same time, their choice demonstrated a desire for a little comfort and continuity, given that Brown was the son of Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, modern California's great builder and the man Reagan had ousted.

The intervening decades brought growth and wealth, political gridlock and, in recent years, a palpable uncertainty about just...

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