California Governor Jerry Brown was reelected for an unprecedented fourth term on Tuesday. Backed by nearly 59 percent of voters, the 76-year-old Democrat easily overtook his challenger, and begins his final term 40 years after he was first elected governor, according to The New York Times. Brown ran no campaign commercials and delayed campaign stops until just nine days before the election, yet easily beat his opponent, Neel Kashkari.
The New York Times reports that most of the $20 million in Brown’s campaign fund was spent backing ballot Propositions 1 and 2. Proposition 1 is a $7.5 billion water bond, which will fund water supply infrastructure to combat the state’s severe three-year drought. Proposition 2 expands the state’s rainy-day fund – money set aside for unforeseen expenditures and deficit coverage -according to NBC Los Angeles.
Brown plans to spend his final term keeping a firm grasp on the state’s finances with the help of voter-backed Proposition 2, according to the Los Angeles Times. The governor has also said he will be reexamining California’s strict criminal justice system, lent a softening blow on Tuesday when Californians passed Proposition 47, a measure dropping low-level offences from felonies to misdemeanors, reports The Sacramento Bee.
The governor hopes to move forward with a $25 billion system of tunnels below the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a project Brown considers key to the state’s water infrastructure. He also hopes to get the long-delayed bullet train off the ground, a $68 billion system of rails to run from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Plans for the train were temporarily stunted by a Sacramento County Superior Judge, who ruled that the legal requirements of the project’s bond measure had not been met. That decision was overturned by the higher courts in July and the project is expected to move forward over the next several years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While there is resounding support for Brown as he begins his fourth term, the reelected California governor may have a more difficult time this term garnering support from the Senate and State Assembly, where Republicans took the two-thirds supermajority. In fact, Tuesday’s election resulted in the state’s Republican incumbents unseating the Democratic majority in the Legislature for the first time since 1994, reports The New York Times.
Brown says the electorate now has a more positive outlook on California’s future, five years after deficits crippled the state. Now “back on an even keel,” Brown seems poised to leave a legacy of fiscal restraint and environmental longevity. He plans to back renewable energy and climate change initiatives in the coming years, maintaining California’s place at the forefront of climate action initiatives.
Brown has cast down speculation of any future campaigns for the U.S. Presidency or mayor of Oakland. He also cannot run for governor again, four terms being the state cap. He previously launched three unsuccessful presidential campaigns and has made no suggestion of wishing to try again. When asked about his last campaign and his fourth and final term, the California governor said that considering the end of his political career was depressing and he elected not to think of it at all.
By Sree Aatmaa Khalsa
Photo by: Steve Rhodes – Flickr License