California Governor Jerry Brown became 80 years old last week, and he has proved that an older political leader can be very effective, as he finishes his second consecutive term as the leader of the largest state, and the fourth term altogether going back nearly a half century.
Brown was elected Governor in 1974, when only 36 and served two terms of office until 1982. He was the youngest Governor in modern California history.
Twenty eight years later, at age 72, he was again elected in 2010 and is now finishing his second round of two consecutive terms in the California Governorship.
So over a period of 36 years, he served more years in office than all but a few state Governors in American history.
By the time he retires in January 2019, only Terry Branstad of Iowa, now Ambassador to China, with 22 years four months; George Clinton of New York serving 20 years and 11 months (in the late 18th and early 19th centuries); and South Dakota Governor William Janklow with 16 years and 7 days, will have served longer than Brown at 16 years and 5 days, with Alabama Governor George Wallace having one less day, at 16 years and 4 days–the only five Governors to have served 16 full years and more.
Brown, of course, also sought the Presidency in 1976 and 1980 against Jimmy Carter, and in 1992 against Bill Clinton. Additionally, he was California Secretary of State from 1971-1975, when he became Governor, and also Mayor of Oakland, California from 1999-2007 and California Attorney General from 2007-2011, when he was again elected Governor. Brown also ran for and lost a US Senate bid in 1982 to Peter Wilson, who later went on to be elected Governor of California in 1990 and 1994.
So altogether, he served in public office for 32 of the past 48 years, and was not in public office for 16 years after being in office for 12 years, but then had a “renaissance ” leading to a second period of 20 years. And even in that period of being out of office, he ran for the Presidency a third time.
Brown has always been controversial, but he is now acknowledged by many observers as being the best state governor in America, having revived the fortunes of California in his third and fourth round in Sacramento.
And he has been a leader in fighting Donald Trump and his agenda, particularly in regard to the environment, and on immigration.
So despite the fact that he would be 82 in 2020, some have wondered if he would seek the Presidency yet again 44, 40, and 28 years after earlier seeking the White House.
The odds of his announcing for President or being able to win the nomination and election are extremely long, but Jerry Brown has proved he cannot be judged by normal circumstances, and that if anyone can defy the odds, it is Jerry Brown!