Jerry Brown Takes Governor's Reins Again


Former California Gov. Jerry Brown returned to his state's highest office Monday -- restoring an old political dynasty while helping to usher in a new balance of power in statehouses across the country.

Democrats took over from Republicans in California and Minnesota, while the GOP seized the reins in Wisconsin and Wyoming. One Republican handed over power to another in Nevada.

Republican chief executives, meanwhile, kicked off their first full terms in Arizona and Utah. Another Republican began his second full term in Idaho.

Across the country, Republicans and Democrats alike were taking charge at a time characterized by dire economic circumstances, and they are being forced to confront severe budget shortfalls in the wake of a steep economic downturn.

Adding to the challenge in a number of states are skyrocketing fixed costs in the form of public sector pensions, health care and other benefits.

Some of the most severe challenges are found in Brown's California, a longtime engine of economic growth now virtually crippled by a yawning budget gap estimated to be $28 billion over the next 18 months.

Brown, the 72-year-old successor to former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been meeting with state officials and legislators in recent weeks to seek remedies.

Brown previously followed Ronald Reagan in the governor's office, picking up the nickname "Governor Moonbeam" during two terms from 1975 to 1983.

His father, Pat Brown, served two terms as governor from 1959 to 1967.

The new governor chuckled when asked during the administration of his oath of office Monday if he accepted the position "without any mental reservation."

"Really," he said. "No mental reservation."

Schwarzenegger, in his final weekly address before Brown's swearing-in, said he was leaving office with his head held high despite the state's recent troubles.