Jerry Brown easily won the Democratic nomination for governor in California.
The state Attorney General, a former two-term governor seeking to return to the office, won the Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday. The Associated Press called the race shortly after polls closed around the state at 8 p.m.
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Brown will face against GOP rival and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who easily outpaced Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in the GOP race.
Brown will not be able to match Whitman's millions -- he has $20 million in the bank so far -- but is relying on Democratically aligned independent groups to fund an opposition campaign. Many of those groups are supported by public employee unions who bristle at Whitman's cost-cutting goals for state government. She has pledged to eliminate 40,000 state government jobs.
With the state's most expensive primary behind them -- most of it self-funded -- the fall campaign will now be fueled by Whitman's personal wealth and Brown's backing from organized labor.
At his campaign party in Club Nokia at LA Live, Brown painted a stark contrast between his bare-bones election operation and Whitman's pack of political consultants. He promised to fix California with a balanced budget and to focus on job creation.
"I'm here tonight not only as the Democratic party's candidate for governor, but also as a Californian who's disgusted with the awful mess in Sacramento and the politicians and Wall Street bankers who got us there," Brown told the crowd.
Whitman will now have to appeal to a broad electorate in a state where a majority are Democratic and independent voters, said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.
"We have to see a different kind of Meg Whitman and she can no longer emphasize her conservative credentials," Pitney said. "I think she'll portray herself as Miss Fix-it, not as an ideological warrior, but a pragmatic solver."
On Tuesday, Brown took a swipe at Whitman's reputation for controlling her message.
"I'm looking forward to a campaign where people get to see the candidates, not just the commercials," he said.
During the campaign, Brown lamented the fact that millions were spent by his Republican opponents in attack ads. In reality, the intra-party brawl has gave his campaign new life.
Not long ago, during the California Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles, Brown was starting to sound desperate. eMeg was pouring it on with television spots touting her background in business and her rendition of all that was wrong with the state. A few polls had popped up showing she was not only 50 points ahead of her Republican rival, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, but she would beat Jerry in a head-to-head match up in the fall.
Brown issued a first-ever pre-primary "threeway debate" challenge between himself and the two Republicans as a way to get some free media. Didn't work.
As governor back in the 70s, Brown once pontificated that "sometimes the best action is no action at all." Such was his strategy for much of the campaign, with him staying mum on most issues.