The Contenders: Brown's classic rock back in fashion in 2010

Scott Sabatini - Examiner.com

Despite his 71 years, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has never been caught behind the times. Over a political career that has had out-survived even Morris the Cat, Brown has become the Rolling Stones of California politics, played on both the classic rock station, the oldies and Top 40 playlists alike.

His is one act -- no matter how many times folks have said it has grown stale -- that continues to pack the house come election day.

Despite something like 16 elections over the course of four decades in politics, nobody believes Brown is looking for a quiet ranch to retire to and write his memoirs. At least not yet.

He still has at least one more biggie up ahead, another California Tour that he hopes will return him to the governor's mansion in Sacramento, the second time in his career he'll follow a Hollywood actor turned state leader.

Though he hasn't announced yet, it's a foregone conclusion that Brown will run for governor in 2010, in the hopes of winning an unprecedented third time as California's leader.

For Brown, the show always goes on.

A rock-star politician

When Brown burst onto the political scene in the 1970s as the boyish governor with shaggy hair and a rock-star girlfriend, he became the symbol of California's liberal nation-state mentality.

The son of former governor Pat Brown, he followed Ronald Reagan as governor of California at the age of 34. He famously refused to move into the governor's mansion, choosing instead to sleep on a mattress on the floor of his rented apartment.

His populist message, open interest in philosophy and occasional relationship to rock-star Linda Ronstadt boosted his appeal with voters. He scooted around town in an economy car instead of a Lincoln Town Car. Even Brown's modernistic governor's portrait drew the wrath of his own father, former Gov. Pat Brown.

Chicago columnist Mike Royko tagged him "Governor Moonbeam" for advocating a space academy in California. Brown's critics seized it as a derogatory label used to encompass his populist positions, trendsetting support for the environment and his long list of quirks.

Just as fads come and go, Brown looked to have had his moment in the sun following failed presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980. He left the office of governor in 1983 and faded from the political spotlight.

But an upstart, grassroots, dogged third campaign for president showed that Brown was more than youthful appeal and high-minded ideologies. He proved he was a bare-knuckle politician who could campaign circles around the powerful machines of others.

While Bill Clinton rode a wave of money and media attention to a sure victory, he could not shake Brown all the way to the Democratic convention. When Clinton refused to give Brown a speaking slot to promote his platform, Brown's supporters protested the convention, mouths taped with signs saying, "Let him speak! Let him speak!"

In 1996, while living in a downtown loft in crime-ridden Oakland, Brown reinvented himself as the city's mayor. He touted downtown renewal, a new Bay Bridge with a signature tower to become the symbol of the new Oakland, and pushed energy efficiency nearly a decade before it became in vogue.

He leaped from his Oakland success story to trounce all contenders for attorney general in 2006, forcing his way back into the state's spotlight and vicariously again, the national political scene.

The ‘common-sense' Brown

Times change. Every other politician claims to be "green" these days. Now, a grandmotherly Linda Ronstadt croons the oldies in a pant suit...  Visit Examiner.com for the rest of the story.

 

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